TO GO WITH AFP STORY BY MIKE COLLIER - This picture taken on November 21, 2014 shows Latvian troops preparing for live-fire exercises at the Adazi military base outside Riga, Latvia. The signature of Estonian defence minister Sven Mikser in Amsterdam on December 9, 2014 sealed the biggest military procurement deal in his country's history and marked a major new step in the efforts of the Baltic states to defend themselves against the threat of Russian aggression.AFP PHOTO / ILMARS ZNOTINS
WARSAW — Normunds Stafeckis, the spokesperson for Latvia’s Defencse Ministry, said that the country is mulling to reintroduce conscription as a result of the geopolitical tensions related to the conflict in Ukraine. Earlier this year, neighboring Lithuania announced it will reinstate conscription for the same reason.
"The issue is on the agenda, but not this year," Stafeckis said in a radio interview, as reported by Russia's state-run news agency Sputnik News.
The spokesperson said that reservist exercises are scheduled to be launched this fall, and to date, 300 former servicemen have been issued notifications to participate in the drills.
In Lithuania, the country’s State Defensce Council decided earlier this year that men between the ages of 19 to 26, and graduates of higher education institutions up to age 38, are to serve in the country's armed forces. Between 3,000 and 3,500 men will be drafted each year, Lithuania’s Defensce Ministry said in a statement.
This comes as a number of countries in Eastern Europe, such as Romania and the Czech Republic, raise defense budgets and consider returning to conscription and raise defense budgets. The Latvian government recently decided to increase its military spending to 1.4 percent of the country's gross domestic product (GDP) in 2016 and 2 percent by 2018.
The hike in defense spending is to allow Riga to acquire new weapons and military equipment for the Latvian military. The country’s Defensce Ministry aims to acquire Stinger anti-aircraft missiles from the US, and the three Baltic States, which comprise Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia, have been discussing a project to set up a midrange air defense system that would be jointly operated.
The Senate has confirmed a Defense Department official who will be tasked with overseeing the logistics of the sprawling, multifaceted effort to deliver military equipment to Ukraine in the war against Russia.