ZAPAD risk is "low" say Kucinskis, Stoltenberg

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Prime Minister Maris Kucinskis met with NATO General secretary Jens Stoltenberg on June 19, in Riga, receiving a briefing on the launch of NATO's enhanced Forward Presence (eFP) and the forthcoming Zapad exercises due to take place in Russia and Belarus, and which have set some security analysts and military personnel speculating about possible incursions. 

Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.

"Kucinskis expressed his satisfaction with the presence of allies in Latvia, stating that it confirms the unity of the alliance and the commitment to defend the Member States against any aggressor," a statement from Kucinskis' office said.

"This is an important signal to Russia that NATO is working and taking care of its own members," Kucinskis said.

He also ran through figures showing that Latvia will hit 2% of GDP defense spending next year, after originally planning to do so only in 2020.

"During the meeting, the military training exercise by the Russian Federation "ZAPAD-2017" in Belarus was mentioned, it being pointing out that such training is taking place along our borders for the first time since Russian aggression in Ukraine, while acknowledging that the military risk posed by ZAPAD-2017 risk is viewed as low," the statement said.

.@Reuters U.S. ?? concerned about Baltic incidents in forthcoming #Russian ?? war games #Zapad2017 via. @AlertNet

— Cez Arysta ? (@cezarysta) June 16, 2017

Kucinskis instead emphasized the threat of Russian information and disinformation efforts in Latvia.

"Special attention should be focused on the issue of strategic communication in order to strengthen the resilience of the state and society against Russian information activities," said the Prime Minister.

Stoltenberg continues his brief Baltic tour June 20 in Lithuania.

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