Ukraine Crisis Relights Conscription Debate in Latvia ({{commentsTotal}})

The recent change in the security situation in Europe has led to Estonia's southern neighbor, Latvia, to boost its defense spending, promising to reach Estonian levels of 2 percent of GDP by 2020. The nation is also debating restoring conscription.

Latvian military expert Raimonds Rublovskis told ETV on Monday no one foresaw the current security climate when conscription ended in 2006. He said the nation is weighing the idea of restoring mandatory military service.

NATO could set up military bases in Latvia, which would cause Russia to increase its military presence in areas bordering Latvia and in Kaliningrad, leading to an arms race between NATO and Russia on Latvian territory, Rublovskis said.

The Latvian Parliament's largest party, the Harmony Center party, which represents the nation's Russian minority, said the funds should be directed to the police force instead of the army. The party, which is in opposition, said a strong police force and security agencies would be a stronger deterrent against would-be provocateurs and separatists.

Lithuania, to Latvia's south, dropped conscription in 2008 and has similiar levels of spending as Latvia as a percentage of its GDP.