Yesterday the Latvian parliament approved the appointment of Lieutenant-Colonel Raimonds Graube, 41, as commander of the country’s armed forces. Graube–who served as commander of the paramilitary Home Guard until 1998–is the third commander of Latvia’s armed forces in the space of less than a year. Last April, Major General Juris Dalbins was forced to step down following a Russian propaganda barrage against him. His successor, Colonel Juris Eihmanis, had to resign several months later amid charges of misappropriation of funds. Graube was then assigned to serve as acting commander of the armed forces, pending confirmation by the parliament.
At yesterday’s confirmation proceedings, Graube said that raising military pay must be the top priority of the military reform if the army is to improve the quality of its personnel. That priority, which inevitably cuts into equipment procurement, underscores the need for raising the defense budget to more than the 0.9 percent of the GDP, which the parliament also approved yesterday in the first reading (BNS, January 28).
LUKOIL TRIES ARM-TWISTING LITHUANIA.