Defense Minister: 'Attack is unlikely'

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Russia's constant saber-rattling around Latvia's borders does not constitute more than a low-level military threat, Defense Minister Raimonds Vējonis said Tuesday. 

Speaking on LTV's morning news show Rita Panorama, Vējonis said that despite the frequent appearance of Russian ships and planes on the horizon "Basically nothing has changed," and that "an attack is unlikely."

Following his recent visit to the United States, Vējonis said negotiations were continuing on the possible purchase of US-made Stinger missiles.

Another item on Latvia's military shopping list is radar capable of detecting low-flying objects, Vējonis said - an obvious necessity with a huge Russian attack helicopter base located just over the border in Pskov region.

Around 10 million euros is also being made available for the upgrading of the state border guard's military capabilities, Vējonis added.

Meanwhile Russia continued to make its presence felt over the holiday weekend while Latvia celebrated 25 years since regaining its independence from the Soviet Union.

During his interview, Vējonis also admitted he would be prepared to stand for the Latvian Presidency if he attracted the support of coalition parties.

"I am ready to stand... If my candidacy is supported by the coalition and the ZZS [the party of which he is a member], then I am ready," said Vējonis.

Names of candidates for the position, which is decided by the parliament or Saeima rather than a popular vote, are expected over the next two weeks with a decision on who will be the next President expected in late May or early June.

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