Austin travels to Latvia to confirm US commitment to Baltic region – Pentagon



WASHINGTON (Sputnik) – US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin will travel to Latvia next week for bilateral talks and affirmation of US commitments to the Baltic region, the Pentagon said on Friday.

“The secretary will then travel to Latvia to meet with government officials to confirm the U.S. engagement and continued presence in Latvia and the wider Baltic region,” the Pentagon said in a statement.

Austin will depart on August 8 and will also stop by Kelly Barracks in Stuttgart, Germany, to attend a change of command ceremony.

Earlier on Friday, Latvia announced a moratorium on issuing visas to Russian citizens unless they were required to attend the funeral of a close relative. Latvia decided to undertake such a move after Estonia went first.

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Austin’s visit comes at a time when NATO’s renewed security interest in the Baltic nations is due to Russia’s special military operation in Ukraine. In her July, Latvia asked the United States to supply High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS), similar to what it supplied to Ukraine.

The Latvian government recently decided to increase its defense budget to 2.5% of GDP by 2025 and announced plans to allocate an additional $763 million to military spending.—pentagon-1098287283.html Austin travels to Latvia to confirm US commitment to Baltic region – Pentagon

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