The president-elect of Latvia, Edgars Rinkēvičs, worries that the arrival of Wagner mercenary drive head Yevgeny Prigozhin and his troops in neighboring Belarus poses dangers for each nations, he advised Semafor in an interview.
“We have already got a really tense state of affairs on the Latvian-Belarusian border with migration getting used as a hybrid weapon,” he stated, referring to Belarus’s observe of pushing refugees from nations to its East throughout its western borders. “If impulsively the mercenaries need to faux to be refugees or migrants, then after all, it creates a complete new safety risk.”
(After the interview was performed, stories emerged that Prigozhin had apparently returned to Russia to be able to gather private weapons and cash.)
Rinkēvičs stated he had no direct proof that the mercenaries would search asylum. “We consider that we have to analyze all types of assumptions, together with the one which this group can be utilized simply to check the resilience of neighboring nations, take a look at the resilience of NATO.”
However Rinkēvičs stated essentially the most speedy risk is perhaps to Belarus itself, the place he famous that the police arrested greater than 30 Wagner fighters earlier than the disputed 2020 election, accusing them of planning election interference.
“I’m a bit shocked that Mr. Lukashenko has allowed some variety of well-trained mercenaries, with the top of that firm who has proved that he’s a bit rogue,” he stated. “If Mr Putin is just not in a position to management him totally, then why does Mr. Lukashenko consider that he’s in a position to management him?”
Rinkēvičs, who served as Latvia’s overseas minister since 2011, shall be inaugurated because the nation’s president Saturday. He spoke to Semafor Wednesday in a convention room in his nation’s overseas ministry in Riga in entrance of show circumstances holding diplomatic paperwork from Latvia’s first interval of independence earlier than World Warfare II.
His function, and the nation’s coverage, is targeted largely on strengthening the nation’s NATO-backed safety within the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Rinkevics warned towards underestimating the Russian navy.
“We understand that not all Russian navy items, particularly the Air Pressure, have been totally deployed in Ukraine,” he stated. “There may be substantial functionality within the Russian navy that we have to take critically.”
“That’s why we’re working with NATO allies additionally to strengthen the presence of NATO troops right here in, within the Baltic States, in Poland within the so-called ‘Jap flank,’” he stated.