Latvian foreign minister encourages support for Ukraine
By Benedict Mayaki, SJ
Pope Francis received Latvian foreign affairs minister, Edgars Rinkēvičs, in audience in the Vatican on Monday.
The Latvian diplomat seized the opportunity of the visit with the Holy Father to meet with other officials of the Holy See, during this time when the Holy See and the Republic of Latvia are marking a centenary of diplomatic relations.
Focus on war and refugees
As the world watches the continuing violence in Ukraine, Rinkēvičs told Vatican News that a lot of the discussions during the encounter were focused on the situation in the besieged nation, particularly as regarding the growing refugee crisis and the humanitarian disaster that is developing.
He added that the parties also discussed ways they can work toward putting a stop to the Russian invasion and an end to the violence, as well as efforts to promote cooperation between international organizations.
Support for Ukraine
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which began in late February, has forced over 3 million people to flee for their lives into neighbouring states, with increasing numbers becoming internally displaced as they move to relatively safer cities within Ukraine.
“It is very important that there is strong support for Ukraine when it comes to the humanitarian aspect and helping the refugees,” he said, stressing the need to “continue employing the strategy of supporting Ukraine in any way we can.”
In this regard, he notes that Latvia is “providing military and non-military assistance” to Ukraine.
Rinkēvičs endorses the sanctions placed against Russia and Belarus, noting that they act as a deterrent for Russia “not to continue the aggression in Europe or to go beyond Ukraine’s borders.”
He also highlights ongoing efforts to strengthen the presence of NATO troops and its allies in the Baltic region, including in Poland and Romania.