Author`s name Pravda.Ru

Latvia's arms buildup

Latvia has launched the largest and costliest arms purchases, totalling 60 million dollars' worth (over 30 million lats), since regaining independence.

The Latvian government has approved 26.7 million lats of arms deals, the daily Diena writes.

Twenty two million lats will be the cost of air defence missile systems to be bought from Sweden. The Latvian army has never had them before. Twenty four howitzers complete with transport, communication means and meteorological equipment will be bought from Germany.

Latvia is not buying new weapons: the Swedish air defence systems were made in the 1970s and the German howitzers in the early 1980s.

Purchase of new arms systems would have cost "dozens of times more", Latvian Defence Minister Atis Slakteris told Diena.

The arms purchases are required "not only for national defence but mostly for foreign missions of the Latvian military", he said.

"Joining the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, Latvia has pledged to raise a brigade fit for taking part in peace-keeping missions abroad", the minister said. "This is why we must provide ourselves with everything necessary".