air space, Air traffic, Aviation, Baltic, Baltic Sea, Denmark, EEZ, Exclusive Economic Zone, Finland, Germany, Kaliningrad, Latvia, Lithuania, Live-fire military exercises, Maritime traffic, NATO, Nord Stream, Nord Stream 2, Poland, Putin, Russia, Sweden, territorial waters
Russia’s Baltic missile tests have interrupted air and maritime traffic of Latvia, Sweden and Poland for several days.
Map: Helsinki Commission, UNCLOS overview. Doc. 2/8, HELCOM SPATIAL WS 1/2009. p. 3
Germany buckled under to Russia on Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline project. Within a few days, Russia announced missile tests in the Baltic, disrupting air and marine transportation.
“Lithuanian FM Calls Russia’s Baltic Sea Missile Tests Part of ‘Military Hooliganism’
April 05, 2018 4:00 AM, by Yulia Savchenko
Lithuania’s top diplomat said Russia’s live-fire military exercises adjacent to NATO territorial waters of the Baltic Sea are a direct military threat in the guise of routine naval drills.
Russia on Wednesday began the three days of missile tests to the alarm of Latvia, in particular, a NATO member who says the air-and-sea target practice with live munitions forced it to partly shut down civilian airspace and caused neighboring Sweden to reroute air and maritime traffic.
“They do it all the time,” Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevičius told VOA’s Russian Service on Wednesday, referring to Russia’s Baltic Sea naval drills that were held four years ago this month, in which smaller naval artillery was tested for all but two of 30 days.
“It was military hooliganism, not just a demonstration of military power,” he said, explaining that this week’s drills, while also legal, again put Scandinavia and the Baltics on edge.
“It was a demonstration of something else, and we already know what it means,” he added, echoing comments made on Tuesday by Latvian Prime Minister Maris Kucinskis, who called the latest exercises an explicit show of military force.
“It is hard to comprehend that it can happen so close to (our) country,” Kucinskis told Reuters, noting that Moscow’s decision to conduct tests so close to Latvian waters followed the West’s recent expulsion of Russian diplomats, the largest since the Cold War.
Show of support
Last week, the U.S. and more than two dozen countries, including the three Baltic states, collectively expelled more than 150 Russian diplomats in a show of solidarity over the poisoning of a former Russia spy in Britain. Russia, which denies any involvement or wrongdoing in the attack, retaliated by expelling more than 150 foreign diplomats, including 60 U.S. diplomats.
The latest Russian naval drills come a day after President Donald Trump hosted the presidents of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, and precede by one day a visit to Latvia by U.S. Army Gen. Curtis M. Scaparrotti, commander of U.S. military forces in Europe.
Russia’s naval exercises also preceded by two days a visit to the U.S. by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, who is set to inspect a fighter jet production plant and American military command posts.
At a time of high East-West tensions, NATO officials worry that any accident involving military weapons and a civilian ship or plane could spark a wider conflict.
On Wednesday, Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite said transatlantic security was high on the agenda of this week’s White House Baltic summit.
“The main goal was to talk about the NATO reform, about security in our region,” Grybauskaite told VOA’s Ukrainian Service. “We got very good declaration of commitment to article 5 with all necessary elements to make our region more secure and more defendable — this was accomplished.”
Core NATO tenet
Despite Trump’s tendency to question Article 5 — a core NATO tenet that says an attack on one member is considered an attack on all members — other Baltic leaders said they left the White House feeling reassured.
“Quite clearly, there is an understanding that we all need to work together — those of us who share the same values of democracy — to make sure that we prevail,”
Estonian President Kersti Kaljulaid told VOA Ukrainian. “We have been discussing the general security situation quite globally.”
Although no Baltic ministers said this week’s Russian naval drills break any international rules, the Latvian defense ministry summoned Russia’s military attaché to express its concern and to raise the issue of the timing.
Moscow, however, which accuses NATO of stirring up anti-Russian propaganda, said Monday that the exercises carried out by its Kaliningrad-based Baltic Fleet were nothing more than routine testing of forces after winter. [Note that Russia has occupied Kaliningrad since 1945; it is not attached to Russia. They need to give it back to Europe.]
The drills follow last September’s massive war games, which stretched from the Baltics to the Black Sea, unnerving the West because of their scale, scope and what NATO called a lack of transparency.
Latvia plans to raise the issue of Russia’s latest drills at a regular meeting of NATO envoys in Brussels next week, officials said.
After Tuesday’s White House Baltic summit, in which President Trump held a closed-door meeting in the Oval Office and a working lunch in the Cabinet Room, Trump pretended that “nobody’s tougher on Russia” than he has been, and that because of him, NATO member countries have started to “pay their bills.”
At the end of Tuesday’s White House meeting, however, Trump said his tough stance on Moscow hasn’t dissuaded him that it “would be a good thing” if the United States got along with Russia.
This story originated in VOA’s Russian and Ukrainian services. Tatiana Vorozhko contributed original reporting. Translation of quotes from the original Russian by Elena Sokolova. Some information is from Reuters“. https://www.voanews.com/a/lithuania-prime-minister-calls-russia-missile-test-military-hooliganism/4333394.html In the next to last paragraph “the American President boasted” was replaced with the more accurate “Trump pretended”. Trump has even undermined Obama sanctions against Russia. Another time American President was written, it was replaced by Trump. The note about Kaliningrad was added.
Germany buckled under to Russia on Nord Stream 2. Within a few days, Russia announced missile tests in the Baltic, disrupting air and marine transportation. Russia has a tiny exclave on the Baltic which it has occupied since 1945, which they renamed Kaliningrad, and which it uses as an excuse to be in the region. Russia complains that it is being surrounded by Europe, whereas Russia is actually occupying part of Europe. Even St. Petersburg has only been Russian since 1703, before that it was Swedish. Baltic researchers are apparently required to get permits weeks and even months ahead, whereas Russia apparently gave only a few days notice. Shame on the German government, and shame on America for not taking Trump’s love affair with Putin seriously enough to act in a quick and decisive manner to impeach him. Those who are toeing the Russian govt. propaganda line are traitors to their countries and to the world.
“Germany approves Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline: Nord Stream 2 has received final permission to start construction and operations in Germany. The US and EU’s eastern members fear the gas pipeline will empower Russia.” Date 27.03.2018 Article here: http://www.dw.com/en/germany-approves-nord-stream-2-gas-pipeline/a-43156602 While Germany has approved the pipeline through its territorial waters, Finland, Sweden, Denmark and even Russia itself, have yet to approve the stretches of pipeline through their territorial waters. Finland issued a partial approval.
“Concerns in region as Russia begins Baltic military drill jr/rg 05.04.2018, 15:39 Russian naval exercises in the Baltic Sea have caused security fears among countries in the region, including Poland, and marine traffic disruptions.” https://polandinenglish.info/36676986/concerns-in-region-as-russia-begins-baltic-military-drill
Small map cropped from old US govt. map showing Nord Stream when it was called North Transgas. Notice Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Sweden. Notice Russia’s Kaliningrad exclave which has been an occupied enclave of Europe since 1945.
“Russia tests missiles in the Baltic Sea, a day after Baltic leaders met with Trump: The action was a “show of force,” a top Latvian defense official said.” https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/russia-tests-missiles-in-the-baltic-sea-a-day-after-baltic-leaders-met-with-trump/2018/04/04/0a35e222-380d-11e8-af3c-2123715f78df_story.html The article points out that, in 2015, Russian military exercises were used to disrupt the laying of a power line link connecting Lithuania and Sweden. The purpose of the connector was so that Lithuania could reduce dependency upon Russia and Belarus for electricity. It was finally finished, despite the disruptions.
Journalist points out the apparent relationship between Nord Stream 2 and the military drills:
Map of territorial waters and EEZ and information on doing research in the Baltic found here:
“HELCOM (2015), BALSAM Project 2013‐2015: Report on Procedures for Granting Permits for Monitoring and Research Activities in the Baltic.” http://www.helcom.fi/BALSAM%20publications/Report%20on%20Procedures%20for%20Granting%20Permits%20for%20Monitoring%20and%20Research%20Activities%20in%20the%20Baltic.pdf