Latvia to reinstate compulsory military service amid Russia’s war on Ukraine

Latvia will reinstate compulsory military service for young men in response to Russian aggression, Defense Minister Artis Pabriks announced on Tuesday.

More Latvians with militarily training will act to deter Russia from targeting its smaller neighbor in a so-called zero-warning attack, Pabriks said in a tweet.

Men from 18 to 27 years of age will have to complete 11 months of service, with several options available to fulfill the requirements, such as serving in the armed forces or in other services or governmental ministries. Women can complete military service voluntarily.

Pabriks said he expected the new measure to be voted on in parliament in the fall, and to be implemented from January or February next year.

Latvia scrapped mandatory military service in 2007. But in response to Russia’s war on Ukraine, Riga has been scaling up its defense capabilities.

The country of 2 million has an estimated 7,000 active soldiers; Pabriks said he wants 30,000 to 40,000 residents with military training, and an international brigade.

In March, the government announced it would increase its military spending to 2.5 percent of GDP, above NATO’s 2 percent target.

Last week, Canada and Latvia signed a deal to increase the number of NATO troops in the Baltic country, though they did not specify the number.