Border Watch: Extra ship put on sea border due to «increased Russian naval activity»

Between July 1 and 26, 18 Russian warships and nine military aircraft were detected near Latvian borders, according to information from the Defense Ministry on June 30.

Several Russian warships including a submarine, were identified near Latvian waters in the final week of July alone.

Just a day before the tally was announced, the Defense Ministry announced that from August 4 an additional Latvian navy ship will be posted on duty in Latvian territorial waters "to enhance the on-call existing vessels and increased operational capability for timely identification of suspicious surface or underwater activities."

The move was a response to "increased Russian naval activity in the Baltic Sea near Latvian territorial waters."

Every time a Russian naval craft is spotted close to Latvia's territorial waters, the public will be informed, the ministry added. 

"Latvia has a modern marine surveillance system and new patrol vessels, which allows to respond effectively to the surface activities. These capabilities so far have also shown that Latvia has been able to identify and follow up suspicious underwater activities," it said.

Russian warships and military aircraft have been approaching Latvian borders on a regular basis in recent years, though none have actually crossed into territorial waters except on one occasion when a stricken Russian vessel was allowed to cast anchor near the coast during a storm.

In particular tugboats and supply vessels have been spotted recently. While they may not pose much of a threat themselves, they are often indicators that a submarine they are supporting may be nearby.

Russian military aircraft above the Baltic Sea's neutral waters near the outer water border of Latvia usually operate with their automatic transponders turned off and without a flight plan, refusing to respond to civilian air traffic controllers and thus posing threat to civilian air traffic.

Last year Russian military aircraft and ships were spotted near Latvia's border over 270 times, including more than 140 incidents involving Russian military airplanes and 130 incidents involving Russian submarines and warships.

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