Latvia Fears Russian Attack, Asks Citizens to Turn Basements Into Raid Shelters

Fearing that Vladimir Putin might target the Baltic republics if he should prevail in his war with Ukraine, Latvian authorities have issued a warning to its people to make their basements air raid shelters.

Vilnis Kirsis, the mayor of Riga, Latvia’s capital, warned his compatriots to prepare to take refuge in their cellars.

Putin is said to have Latvia, Estonia, and Lithuania as top targets if his invasion of Ukraine is successful.

The civil defense committee of Riga has started making plans for shelters in public buildings throughout the city as countries strive to strengthen their defenses.

The commission chairman, Gints Reinsons, said that the city would prepare 100 shelters per month until the end of the year.

In response to Putin’s troops’ increasing aggressiveness in the area, the three NATO member nations of the Baltics have decided to establish their own defensive line along their borders with Russia and Belarus. Belarus has linked itself with Russia. The Baltic Defensive Line consists of anti-mobility defense installations each country has promised to build along its eastern border.

Defense Minister Hanno Pevkur of Estonia said at the time that actual defensive buildings at the border from the first meter are necessary to safeguard Estonia, in addition to equipment, ammunition, and troops, citing Russia’s conflict in Ukraine.

Latvia has committed to spending 303 million euros over five years to fortify its borders.

To stop tanks in their tracks, it will destroy hundreds of roads close to the border, build anti-tank trenches along them, and lay minefields and “dragon’s teeth” obstacles.

Lithuanian lawmakers, backed by a two-thirds majority in parliament, committed last month to allocating at least 3% of GDP to defense beginning in 2025.

In 2023, it allocated 2.8% of its GDP to defense; this year, it is expected to maintain that level of spending.

Lithuania plans to spend some of the extra funding on getting ready to permanently host 5,000 German soldiers beginning in 2027, demonstrating the growing military cooperation among continental partners.

The defense ministry intends to begin building the bunkers in early 2025. Each bunker may house ten people.