Merkel in Latvia: Baltic Military Infrastructure Should Be Strengthened, But No Permanent NATO Bases ({{commentsTotal}})

Speaking in Riga on Monday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said infrastructure should be built in the Baltic states to allow an immediate response to any aggression by Russia, but she took a softly-softly stance regarding any actual permanent bases.

Delfi Latvia reported Merkel saying that she understands the concerns of Latvia and other nations in the region in light of the continuing conflict in Ukraine. But Merkel said permanent NATO bases would go against the 1997 NATO "Founding Act" signed with Russia, EUObserver reported.

“We must create conditions to react quickly if Latvia needs the support of NATO,” she said. Delfi reported that this does not mean permanent boots on the ground as that would ruin the relationship between Germany and Russia.

Merkel said political solutions must be considered first but that sanctions must also be applied to Russia to show the seriousness of the West's demands. She added that the sanctions will affect both Latvia and Germany but would be outweighed what she called the damage of failing to act.

Meeting Latvian leaders on a one-day whistle-stop trip, Merkel underlined the West's resolve to stand by Article 5, NATO's central collective defense clause that considers an attack on one member an attack on all.