It is also crucial for Western nations to maintain the unity that followed Russia’s invasion of its neighbor, and urgent steps must be taken to counter the disinformation the Kremlin uses to sow division between allies, Karins said. 

“As leaders, it is our responsibility to explain to our societies why prices are going up,” he told the gathering in Washington via video link. “If we in the West are paying with our wallets, we need to remind everyone that Ukrainians are paying with their lives.” 

Liberal democracies shouldn’t be afraid to be strong in the face of tyranny and must stand up for their values, including the use of military means, he said. Latvia is increasing its spending on defense and other countries should do the same. 

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Freedom-loving countries must also be resilient against attacks on Western values that come through subverting the cherished democratic principles that are so central to the transatlantic alliance, Karins told attendees. 

“We have to strengthen societal resilience against disinformation,” he said. “We have to be aware ourselves as leaders and then to make our societies understand that there’s always this threat of disinformation which is aimed to bring us apart.” 

It’s also crucial to develop alternative sources of energy to prevent Russia — or any other state — from blackmailing countries into abandoning the principles of freedom, democracy, and the rule of law, Kariņš said. 

“We have tremendous pressure on us coming from Russia in the form of energy blackmail, rising prices, and that leads to certain instabilities within our societies,” he said. “This is Putin’s attempt to break apart this fantastic alliance,” he added. “It’s vitally important in this time of war that we remain united.” 

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