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Latvian defence minister concerned over Iskander missiles near Baltic borders

December 16, 2013, 19:55 UTC+3 RIGA

Artis Pabriks: this is an alarming signal, but the news came as no surprise

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© AP Photo/Virginia Mayo

RIGA, December 16. /ITAR-TASS/. Latvian Defense Minister Artis Pabriks has described the placement of Russia’s several Iskander missile battalions near the borders of the Baltic countries as a matter of concern.

“This is an alarming signal, but the news came as no surprise to us, as we have recently discussed the issue with our colleagues in the Baltic countries,” he told the local LNT channel Monday. “The deployment of such weapons was planned and used during the West 2013 exercise.” He claimed the move made the region less secure, but it did not mean a greater threat than before, as NATO membership guaranteed Latvia a high security level.

Nonetheless, the deployment heightened tensions amid the increasing military activity near the Baltic countries’ borders and NATO would likely take some measures in retaliation, Pabriks said.

Last weekend, a number of media reported the deployment of missiles in Russia’s westernmost Kaliningrad region. On Monday, the Russian Defense Ministry’s press officer Igor Konashenkov confirmed the tactical ballistic missile systems were in service at Western military district’s artillery units. He added the areas of deployment did not run counter to any international agreements and accords.

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