Rinkēvičs: we cannot rule out provocations

Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkēvičs said September 14 that while the ZAPAD military exercises being conducted just across the border by Russia and Belarus are not expected to turn into genuine military conflict, they could spawn other attempts to test NATO's resolve. 

Speaking at the Foreign Ministry, Rinkēvičs told LSM:

"We do not consider the ZAPAD exercises a direct military threat and we don't believe there is going to be any kind of military provocation against the Baltic states or Poland. However, all relevant ministries work in a state of alert. We'll analyze the ongoing exercise.

Edgars Rinkēvičs on ZAPAD 2017Mike Collier/LSM

    "We cannot rule out attempts to test NATO defences or to test us in a non-military way like cyber defense. We have seen already some information warfare elements trying to tell how scared the Baltics are, trying to intimidate our societies and trying to send messages to NATO allies and their societies."

    Latvia is sending observers at the invitation of both Belarus and Russia independently, and the minister explained their function. 

    "We visited Belarus in July and got assurances that the government of Belarus has a very clear position: that they don't want any additional Russian forces to remain in Belarus and I don't have any reason to doubt this."

    September 14 sees the launch of the "active" phase of the ZAPAD drills, with more than 100,000 Russian and Belarusian personnel expected to take part in an orchestrated show of strength.

     

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