Latvia is contemplating plans to reintroduce conscription amid growing tension with Russia, according to a Defense News report Friday. Earlier this year, neighboring Lithuania said it would also reinstate conscription because of fears about Moscow.
With new military exercises due in the fall, Latvia has already called up 300 veterans to participate. More will be called if the Parliament in Riga passes a conscription bill.
"The issue is on the agenda, but not this year," military spokesman Normunds Stafeckis said in a radio interview.
Earlier this year, Lithuania’s State Defense Council decided that males between the ages of 19 to 26 and graduates of higher education institutions up to age 38 will have to serve in the armed forces. By current estimates, between 3,000 and 3,500 men will be drafted annually, Lithuania’s Defense Ministry said in a statement.
The Latvian government recently increased its military spending to 1.4 percent of the country's GDP in 2016 and will aim for 2 percent by 2018, the NATO-mandated minimum for its members. This comes as a number of countries in Eastern Europe, such as Romania and the Czech Republic, also consider conscription and raising their defense budgets.
Last week, Latvia signed a contract with Lockheed Martin to buy three TPS-77 Multi-Role Radars, according to Russian news site Sputnik news.
"Purchase of ‘TPS-77’ MRRs will mean a huge investment in the strengthening of defense capabilities of national armed forces and gives us the chance to act accordingly to modern threats facing all NATO countries," Latvian Defense Minister Raimonds Bergman said, according to Sputnik.
The multi-role radar builds upon a 15-year relationship between the Latvian military and Lockheed. The radar is designed for ultra-low power consumption and is the most transportable version of Lockheed Martin’s TPS-77 product line, according to the report.