Latvia reinstates mandatory military service for men
April 5, 2023 08:35 PM
Latvia's parliament on Wednesday voted to reinstate compulsory military service for young men starting next year in response to regional security risks amid neighbouring Russia's war on Ukraine.
"The state defence service is our answer to the new geopolitical threat," Latvian Defence Minister Inara Murniece told lawmakers ahead of the vote.
"Since Russia's brutal invasion of Ukraine, we can ensure that Latvia is protected only through complex defence solutions, which include not just weapons systems but also a large segment of society at the ready for military action," she added.
Latvia had scrapped mandatory service a few years after joining the NATO defence alliance.
Since 2007, the EU member's military has consisted of career soldiers along with National Guard volunteers who serve in the infantry part-time on weekends.
The country of under two million people, which borders both Belarus and Russia, currently only has 7,500 active duty soldiers and National Guard members, backed by 1,500 NATO troops.
The mandatory military service will apply to men aged 18 to 27, with several options available for fulfilling the requirement.
There will also be an alternative of non-combat service for those ineligible for health or religious reasons.
The president still needs to give his green light for the mandatory military service to go into effect.