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Wednesday 23.08.2017 | Name days: Valgudis, Ralfs, Vitālijs
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97 explosive items are neutralized as part of Open Spirit 2014

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Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RUThe Open Spirit 2014 military exercises concluded with a ship parade. During these military exercises, a total of 97 explosive objectss were found and neutralized in Irbe Strait.

The ship parade took place in Latvian territorial waters, not far from Liepaja. The main objective of the mine-hunting operation was to locate and dispose of explosive ordnance that still remained on the bottom of the Baltic Sea since World War I and World War II, as reported by Defence Ministry.

‘A total of 12 kinds of explosive ordnance were found and disposed of, including 95 underwater mines and two torpedoes. More than 1,000 sailors and divers had inspected a total of 1,240 objects under the sea in an area of 200 km2,’ – as Captain Valdis Stanka commented the operation. The head of the Latvian Navy headquarters emphasized that not all objects that were found during the operation turned out to be explosives.

’Estimates show that there are still 17,000 mines remaining in Irbe Strait. There may be even more unidentified and potentially explosive objects there as well,’ – said Stanka.

He added that Open Spirit 2014 was one of the largest training events for divers to be organized in Latvia. There were teams of divers from five countries – Latvia, Estonia, USA, Canada and Poland. ‘Mines can be found and disposed of by ships. They can also be identified and terminated by trained divers. It is the fastest and most efficient method. But it is not the safest method,’ – says the commander of the training group of ships.

’15 allied and partner states have participated in these military exercises. This allowed Latvian Navy to strengthen its ties and communication with Navy forces of other countries. More importantly – these military exercises allowed us to address the pollution problem in Irbe Strait, making ship routes safer and helping ecosystems a bit as well,’ – comments Defence Minister Raimonds Vejonis.

As previously reported, Open Spirit 2014 military exercises were held in Latvia over May 9th – 22nd.

The goal of these annual exercises, which are held in one of the Baltic States, is to clean up ship routes and fishing areas from explosive ordnance that remains on the bottom of the sea. Exercises also help improve organization and cooperation among Navy forces of different countries and hone the skills of divers, their tactics and procedures.

There have been multiple incidents in Ventspils recently involving sailors who are part of the ‘Open Spirit 2014’ mine-hunting operation. A Dutch sailor was seriously injured and was hospitalized in Ziemelkurzeme Regional Hospital after suffering a blunt force trauma to the head.

Dutch ambassador in Latvia Hendrik Gerrit Cornelis van den Dool notes that this particular incident is being investigated by the Military Police and State Police. He added that sides should not announce provocative assumptions until details of what actually happened are uncovered. ‘Neither I, nor Mr. Lembergs were present at the incident,’ – said the diplomat.

‘Many different incidents can occur in Ventspils. However, we should keep in mind that the city’s Mayor is responsible for its security,’ – said the ambassador, noting the state of the 21-year-old Dutch sailor is serious.

In order to criticize the presence of NATO forces in Ventspils, Russian state media Russia Today uses some of the most colourful statements Aivars Lembergs has to offer on the situation. The article with the title ‘Peed in public, behave like occupiers’: Latvian mayor complains about NATO sailors’ RT condemned NATO in Latvia. The article also includes multiple citations of Lembergs opinion on the presence of foreign military forces in Ventspils.

RT cited the ‘outspoken critic of Latvian-NATO cooperation’ and his opinion that NATO sailors ‘behaved like occupiers, who do not recognize Latvia’s sovereignty’.

Aivars Lembergs’ friendly relations with Russia, including one of his latest statements that the only ones to benefit from the presence NATO soldiers in Latvia would be the prostitutes, was picked up by Russian media in the past as well.

As a result, Lembergs once said on Russian television: ‘We all know how Americans behaved in Japan, Iraq, Vietnam and many other corners of the world. Latvia has a treaty with USA that states that American soldiers are to be stand trial in USA for any offences they perform in Latvia. This is why I believe it is very dangerous to have foreign military forces present in Latvia,’ – he said.

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  1. mike walsh says:

    Just as I have long predicted; this is the beginning of the U.S NATO much reduced presence in Europe. “The US military announced Friday it was closing down 21 military facilities in half a dozen countries across Europe, a move the Pentagon said would trim $60 million in fat annually.”

    Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

  2. Linda says:

    And I suppose the occupying Russians are angels … methinks not!

    Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0

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