RIGA - In order to help strengthen Latvia's security, Spain will send six Leopard 2e tanks to Latvia as part of the Canadian-led NATO battalion, which is the first time Spain has sent these types of tanks outside of the country.
According to information from the Spanish Embassy to Latvia, Spain could send approximately 350 military personnel, as well as six tanks, to Latvia as part of the NATO mission. Furthermore, Spain is also likely to send another 14 to 16 armored vehicles.
Defense Ministry spokesman Kaspars Galkins did not comment to BNS the information from the Spanish Embassy, as the decision on what type of military equipment to send is not made by each participating country.
''Several countries participating in the battalion have announced what kind of equipment they intend to deploy to Latvia. Consultations continue with these countries, and no specifics regarding the type of military equipment and the precise number of units has been determined,'' Galkins said.
National Armed Forces Commander Leonids Kalnins said this past January that Poland, Italy and Canada also plan on sending heavy weapons to Latvia, but that these countries themselves will determine what type and how many units.
Galkins pointed out that Defense Minister Raimonds Bergmanis (Greens/Farmers) will attend a meeting of NATO defense ministers in Brussels this week, where the challenges facing the alliance today will be discussed. Bergmanis will also participate in a meeting organized by Canadian Defense Minister Harjit Sajjan, which will also be attended by the defense minister of those countries participating in the NATO battalion in Latvia - Albania, Italy, Spain, Slovenia and Poland. Matters related to the arrival of the battalion to Latvia will be discussed.
As reported, the Canadian-led NATO battalion of more than 1,000 troops will fully arrive in Latvia by June, Kalnins said earlier.
He said that the NATO battalion will fully arrive in Latvia in June, but before that – in late winter and spring - small contingents will arrive to prepare for the arrival of the whole battalion.
The battalion will be deployed at the Adazi military base, but exercises and different events will take place across Latvia.
BNS also reported, NATO leaders at the summit in Warsaw in July 2016 approved the deployment of four multinational battalions to the Baltic countries and Poland as part of measures meant to deter Russia from possible aggression. Their deployment will begin in 2017 and proceed on a rotational basis.
Canada is the lead nation for the battalion to be stationed in Latvia. Half of the battalion will be Canadian soldiers, and it will also include soldiers from Albania, Italy, Spain, Poland and Slovenia.
The Canadian troops will start arriving in spring this year.