US Secretary of State Antony Blinken is in Latvia on Tuesday for talks with the country’s leaders and a NATO ministerial meeting as the coalition expresses concerns about Russia’s military build-up along the border with Ukraine.
Blinken’s program in Riga includes sessions with Latvian President Egils Levits, Prime Minister Krysjanis Karins and Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkeviks. He is also due to meet with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg ahead of ministerial talks later in the day.
Levits told reporters after his talks with Stoltenberg on Monday that Russia’s military presence represents direct pressure on Ukraine, and that NATO “will remain in solidarity with Ukraine.”
Stoltenberg called on Russia to de-escalate tensions in the region, saying the military build-up was “unprovoked and unexplained”.
“Any future Russian aggression against Ukraine will have a high price and serious political and economic consequences for Russia,” Stoltenberg said.
A key focus of work at the NATO ministerial meeting is updating what the group calls its strategic concept, which was last changed a decade ago.
Stoltenberg said it was important to revisit the strategic document given the changing nature of threats facing NATO, which he called a “more dangerous world”.
“We look at Russia’s behavior, we look at cyber, we look at terrorist threats, we look at the proliferation of nuclear weapons,” Stoltenberg said. “And we see the security consequences for China which is now becoming more and more global power.”
Talks in Riga also come as NATO members Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland’s neighboring Belarus deal with a border crisis.
The European Union accused Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko of trying to cross thousands of migrants, mainly from the Middle East, into Latvia, Lithuania and Poland to travel to Belarus and destabilize the European Union. The European Union says Lukashenko is retaliate for sanctions imposed against his government.
Blinken is due to travel to Sweden on Wednesday to meet fellow ministers of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and discuss bilateral ties with Swedish officials.