Latvia’s parliament, the Saeima, voted unanimously on Monday to allow Latvian citizens to volunteer for military service in Ukraine. The vote comes amid the military conflict between Ukraine and Russia.
The vote concerned amendments to the Latvian law on national security. Traditionally, the National Security Law prohibits Latvian citizens from serving in foreign armed forces or outside a territory. There is an exception in the law for citizens joining the military services of certain countries and entities recognized by Latvia. With the new changes in place, the same exception will now apply to military service in Ukraine.
In a draft of the bill, the Saeima cited the military conflict between Ukraine and Russia as the main reason for adopting the amendments. The Saeima has sought to clear a legal path for Latvian citizens who want to join the Ukrainian Armed Forces or help in the resistance movement. Latvian citizens who want to help Russia or separatist forces in the conflict are not included in the exception, however. The Saeima noted that citizens seeking to join Russia or separatist forces are still subject to the ban and would potentially violate criminal law.
The amendments entered into force on Tuesday after the Saeima adopted them at second and final reading on Monday. The Saeima also adopted related amendments to the citizenship law on Monday. The amendment to the Citizenship Law would remove obstacles for people applying for Latvian citizenship after military service in Ukraine.