The Russian armed forces are strong enough and, regrouping, pose a rather big risk for Europe –

The Russian armed forces are far from being annihilated, they are still strong enough and, regrouping, pose a rather big risk for Europe and the region, President Edgars Rinkevics stressed today in a discussion among the participants of the Leadership Program of the educational organization “Junior Achievements of Latvia”.

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He urged youth never to underestimate their opponent. The President noted that everyone is a little tired of the war, which has been going on for a year and a half. News about the war on television, portals and social networks dulls the attention, but nothing is over.

Rinkevics stressed that he cannot relax and that the programs currently being implemented by the Ministry of Defense are very important, such as the National Defense Service. According to the president, when introducing a service, it is important to show that it is significant and is not a return to the thirty-year past.

“Everything we do must continue. If we stop, don’t do, or put off something now, it could cost us dearly later. Do not get tired and relax, do not underestimate the actions of the enemy,” the President stressed.

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Speaking about the opinion that Ukraine is already fighting for us, Rinkevich stressed that at present Ukrainian soldiers and people are trying to weaken both the Russian economy and the armed forces of Ukraine as much as possible. The sanctions also mean that Russia may not be able to achieve some sort of decisive victory that the Kremlin is still hoping for.

“Now the strategy has changed – to take time in the hope that everyone will get tired, that governments may change in many Western countries, that both support for Ukraine and sanctions against Russia and Belarus will become weaker. Now we ourselves see that sanctions could be more effective, however, all EU member states must agree on sanctions, and it is not always possible to agree on the most effective method,” the President said.

Rinkevics explained that Ukraine gives not only Latvia, but also NATO the opportunity to increase defense spending, the potential for internal security, by producing a sufficient amount of necessary ammunition. In fact, this is an opportunity to strengthen itself so that in a few years no provocations are possible.

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“NATO is aware that there is a risk of provocation. We are doing everything possible to prevent this, but hybrid warfare is unpredictable precisely because it is a fight without rules. A couple of years ago, it was hard to imagine that people, for example, could be used as a weapon, which was successfully mastered by the regime of (Ukrainian authoritarian leader Alexander) Lukashenko,” the President said.

He also stressed that people seeking a better life are forced to cross the borders of Latvia, Lithuania and Poland, knowing that crossing the border in this way is illegal. Energy, according to the president, was also a good weapon that did not work.

“There will be some not-so-pleasant events. They must be ready. We are indeed buying time to improve security. How successfully we will do this is the joint responsibility of the Government, the Saeima and the President. We are indeed weakening Russia in a sense, but Russia is not defeated. Now it is already a battle of endurance,” the President said.

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Edgars Rinkevics. Photo – State Chancellery.

The participants of the discussion also touched upon the issues of education in the country, including the School 2030 project. Rinkevics noted that when he visited the districts and talked with teachers, for example, in the Rujien High School, it was clear that the beginning was difficult. It is not easy, both because of the lack of materials, and because it is difficult to adapt and understand. It is also not easy because at some point the “rules of the game” change for students.

The President acknowledged that there are problems in the implementation of the project and the first conclusions are beginning to appear, which, perhaps, should be changed. One of the issues is related to the teaching of history as a separate subject. Rinkevics stressed that a common opinion is beginning to form that the history of Latvia and the world should be taught separately and cannot be combined with other subjects.

On the other hand, speaking about the struggle of teachers for wages, the country’s first person emphasized that teachers do the right thing for two reasons: firstly, they have to fight for their rights, and secondly, with their civic activism. Teachers set a good example for young people.

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“You must stand up for your rights. Although the government does not always like it, sometimes it cannot be forced to listen. Listens to those who speak loudly. If people do not defend their rights, they are not heard,” the president said.

He also drew attention to the fact that teachers of different generations work in educational institutions. According to the President, interaction between generations of teachers is necessary, it is necessary to take into account both the enthusiasm of young people and a new store of knowledge, as well as the experience of experienced teachers. Mutual interaction, according to the president, would make a good contribution.

“The world is changing and evolving. Many of you said that you started your studies in Latvia. In my opinion, this is a good and right approach – to enjoy your student years, learn as much as possible in Latvia and maybe go to study somewhere else and come back to start developing the country and the things you want to achieve. The good news for higher education in Latvia is that there is an interest in studying directly in the country. This should be assessed, and universities should try to go up, forward, and also keep the bar high enough so that there is interest in learning,” the country’s first person emphasized.

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