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Latvia’s defense minister said on Friday the Baltic states and Poland must invest in military infrastructure so they can host troops from other NATO nations for training or in case of crisis. Russia’s annexation of Crimea and the conflict in eastern Ukraine have alarmed Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania – like Ukraine, former Soviet republics with Russian-speaking minorities. Germany’s Angela Merkel, during a short visit to Latvia on Monday, pledged NATO would defend the Baltic states, although it would not send permanent combat troops. Latvia and Lithuania spend respectively just 0.9 and 0.8 percent of GDP on defense but have pledged to meet the alliance’s target of 2.0 percent by 2020.



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