Latvia has fallen into a trap. It all started with a sincere desire to increase the military capabilities of the state.
Thus, according to the Ministry of Defence, five years ago Latvia and the UK agreed on supply of 123 used Combat Vehicle Reconnaissance Tracked or CVR(T) for €48.1 million euros to Latvia.
In November 2018, it signed a deal for four UH-60M Black Hawk helicopters.
In addition, Latvia has purchased 47 M109 self-propelled artillery pieces from Austria and Stinger man-portable air-defense missile systems (MANPADs) from Denmark.
Latvia has also expressed interest in procuring a medium-range ground-based air-defense system (GBADS) and is investing $56 million annually through 2022 on military infrastructure, with two-thirds of this amount being spent to upgrade Ādaži military base, headquarters of the Canadian-led EFP battle group.
It could be seen that Latvia allocates great amount of money to increase its defence capabilities by buying used military vehicles, ammunition and equipment from its NATO and EU partners.
All this sounds impressive, but in practice all the equipment needs major repairs and modernization.
Latvian authorities should admit that huge part of such military equipment is worn-out.
Experts underline that even if equipment is bought only for training purposes not for the battle, it should serve even longer. But worn-out vehicles or helicopters will be “killed” by military in the training process faster than by the enemy in real battle.
Latvian authorities recognized that supplied British Combat Vehicle Reconnaissance Tracked were far from being new: they were produced in the mid-sixties of the last century. When Latvia launched this large-scale army mechanization project, the goal was set to engage the local industry as much as possible.
Still, even today, most serious repairs of the armored vehicles are not conducted in Latvia. Latvia does not have spare parts as well. Repairs of the CVR(T) are still conducted in the UK instead of Latvia.
Nevertheless, then Latvian Defence Minister Raimonds Bergmanis insisted that this was an important step towards strengthening Latvia’s self-defense capacity.” New Defence Minister has just the same point of view on the issue.
But this means that Latvia, seeking to pursue a self-fulfilling policy in military sphere, becomes more and more dependent on foreign industrial capacity and simply on the political will of its partners.
“Armed to the teeth”, as they say.