Shropshire Star

Britain urged to consider conscription to deter Russian threat

Latvian foreign minister Krisjanis Karins said Britain should consider the model of ‘total defence’.

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Britain should consider conscription and a “total defence” model to deter Russian aggression, according to the Latvian foreign minister.

Latvia reintroduced the model last year, based on Finland’s conscription system, which means all able-bodied men are required to complete 11 months of military service.

Speaking to The Sunday Telegraph, Krisjanis Karins said Britain should consider following suit as a way of combating any threat from Russia.

“We would strongly recommend this,” he said. “We are developing and fleshing out a system of what we call a total defence involving all parts of civil society.”

Grant Shapps visits Catterick Garrison
Defence Secretary Grant Shapps (Owen Humphreys, PA)

“We need to plan and train and supply and plan and train and supply and make that visible to the Russians.

“We will not stop them from wanting to have imperialistic ambitions, but we can make sure they don’t consider coming our way.”

Mr Karins added that it was “inevitable” for Britain to increase their defence spending to 3% of gross domestic product (GDP), a measure of the size of the economy.

Defence Secretary Grant Shapps this week called for that increase, but Mr Sunak has said he wants to raise defence spending to 2.5% of GDP when economic circumstances allow.

In January, Armed Forces Minister James Heappy said any talk of the UK introducing conscription to the Army if Nato goes to war with Russia was “nonsense”.

He said the UK “long had plans” readied for “mobilising volunteers” in the event Britain does enter a new conflict, but stressed that “nobody is thinking” about bringing back conscription.

The remarks came after comments made by General Sir Patrick Sanders, the outgoing Chief of the General Staff, were interpreted as suggesting that conscription could be required in any potential future battle with Russia due to the British Army being too small.

No 10 ruled out any suggestion that conscription was under consideration, saying there were “no plans” to change the British military’s “proud tradition of being a voluntary force”.