Defense Minister: Russian army doing more snap exercises

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Last year the intensity of the Russian army by the Latvian border was 'very great', and there were more snap exercises about which the neighboring countries aren't informed, Defense Minister Raimonds Bergmanis told Latvian Television Thursday morning.

He said that last year Russian planes had been near the Latvian border 140 times, while ships came near Latvian waters 130 times. Fighter jets at the Siauliai Air Base in Lithuania scrambled 160 times - or almost every other day.

"The intensity is very great. It's not in vain that the [Russian Defense Minister Sergey] Shoygu said they'll have three new divisions in the west," Bergmanis said. 

Bergmanis said that Russia is carrying out snap exercises more often and not providing information beforehand. 

"It's very dangerous, because there are laws and international norms, and they try to hide them [the exercises]," Bergmanis said.

"If there are exercises [with troop presence] up to a certain number, the neighboring countries have to be informed, and they have to have observers present in larger exercises. [..] They are doing it like in a store where you have the price tag not at €10 but €9.99," Bergmanis said, perhaps meaning Russia is keeping troop numbers in exercises down by thin margins so they wouldn't be required to announce them or have observers present. 

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