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No connection between Russian military drills and EU sanctions — Latvian foreign minister

March 17, 2015, 17:23 UTC+3 BRUSSELS

Latvia's top diplomat believes Russian exercises in the Baltic and Arctic are not linked to the EU sanctions policy

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Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics

Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics

© Anton Novoderezhkin/TASS

BRUSSELS, March 17. /TASS/. There is no connection between large-scale military drills in Russia and EU sanctions, Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics told a press conference on Tuesday.

"I wouldn’t link the exercise Russia is holding in the Baltic and Arctic to the sanctions policy. Sanctions are needed to facilitate the implementation of the Minsk agreements, stabilization of the situation in Ukraine’s south-east," Rinkevics said.

EU is not happy with "what is going on near its borders," the foreign minister said. "We are, of course, not happy about drills in the Baltic Sea or in the Arctic, or about reports that Russia is deploying some military equipment in Crimea. This causes concern, but I wouldn’t say we consider it an immediate military threat," Rinkevics noted.

Russia’s actions do not lead to deescalation of the situation in Europe, he said. "I do not think this is a positive step, but we cannot link sanctions policy on non-recognition of Crimea and situation in Ukraine to [Russia’s] military drills," the minister added.

Snap checks in Russia

In accordance with the decision of the Supreme Commander of the Russian Armed Forces, Vladimir Putin, a surprise inspection of the Northern Fleet and separate formations of the Western Military District is conducted in the period from March 16 to 21. The snap check involves some 38,000 troops, 3,360 units of military equipment, 41 warships, 15 submarines, 110 warplanes and helicopters.

Units of the Baltic Fleet, Southern Military District and Airborne Forces have been brought to highest state of combat readiness in the framework of large-scale strategic drills, the Russian Defense Ministry’s press service said on Tuesday.

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