Julian Lindley-French: COVID-19, Europe’s Defence And The Riga Test
What are the implications for the Allied defence of Riga of COVID-19? Defence budgets will probably be plundered in many European countries to pay for ‘human’ (health) security, the growing gap between Allied defence, deterrence and threat will further increase, a further European retreat from defence commitments will exacerbate transatlantic tensions over burden-sharing, post-Brexit Britain will further retreat from the land defence of the Continent, and the conditions could be created for a high-end defence emergency in which the people of Riga would be particularly vulnerable. If the provision of defence continues to decline in both relative and absolute terms then radical approaches will be needed to reforge credible defence and deterrence. Have a nice day!
For many years I have had the honour of being an invited guest of LATO to the wonderful Rīga Conference. Every year I set what I call the Riga Test: are the good citizens of Riga more or less secure than they were the last time I visited Latvia’s beautiful capital city. In so doing I try to place myself, a Western European, in the position of my friends in the Baltic States. It is with regret that this year the answer is no. Why? COVID-19, like a major war, has accelerated a shift in the plate tectonics of defence geopolitics and that shift is not in Europe’s favour.
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