Russian military exercises trigger Baltic concern

MOSCOW Baltic officials said Friday regional security had been weakened as Russia led military exercises on their doorstep involving almost 12,000 troops.

A week of land and sea manoeuvres began Friday as part of biennial exercises with Belarus, Russia’s Defence Ministry said on its website.

Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, which regained independence in 1991 after half a century of Soviet rule, joined the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in 2004 amid Russian opposition.

While Russia calls Friday’s war games an antiterrorism exercise, they suggest an escalation “into a conflict with NATO member countries,” said Estonian Defence Minister Urmas Reinsalu. “An exercise of this nature is certainly negatively affecting the security environment in the region.”

Lithuanian Defence Minster Juozas Olekas said Friday that Russia should provide its neighbours with more information on drills of this kind, as NATO does about its own operations, the BNS news service reported.

“Calling this an antiterror operation sounds a bit strange, as they’re using tanks and heavy aviation,” he said, according to BNS. “We’re closely watching what’s going on.”

Full article: Russian military exercises trigger Baltic concern (The Spec)

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