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Tuesday 31.05.2016 | Name days: Jūsma, Alīda
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Defence Ministry: shooting down of Malaysian Boeing 777 proves Russia’s policy is a threat to Europe

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Baltic news, News from Latvia, BNN.LV, BNN-NEWS.COM, BNN-NEWS.RU«The shooting down of Malaysian Airlines Boeing 777 is tragic proof of Latvia’s opinion that Russia’s policy in Ukraine creates real threats to safety and stability of the Euro Atlantic region,» – admits Latvian Defence Minister Raimonds Vejonis.

«Uncontrolled distribution of military hardware of any kind poses a threat to Europe and the rest of the world,» – says the minister, expressing his deepest condolences in regard to the recent tragic air catastrophe in Ukraine.

Latvian Defence Minister emphasizes that this tragedy only serves as proof of Latvia’s opinion in the matter of expanding the presence of NATO forces in the Baltic Region.

Ever since the beginning of the Ukrainian crisis, Latvian National Armed Forces have been guarding the country’s borders especially carefully. NATO has also increased airspace patrolling measures in the region. On top of that, Latvia regularly exchanges information with its NATO partners and participates in military exercises, as reported by Defence Ministry.

Defence Ministry has performed an analysis of the possible effect the catastrophe could have on the region. The institution has also compiled a list of priorities worth developing. These proposals cover areas like increasing self-defence capabilities, improvement of battle-readiness of specific units and development of early-warning systems.

BNN had previously reported that there had been multiple incidents in Ventspils involving sailors who are part of the ‘Open Spirit 2014’ mine-hunting operation earlier this year. 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.

Lembergs’ opinion has not gone unnoticed in Latvia. Social networks are filled with a furious storm over this kind of opinion. High-rank Latvian officials express their thoughts on this as well. Former Latvian Defence Minister Artis Pabriks condemned Lembergs’ statements on his Twitter page; rhetorically asking if anyone in Ventspils would like to follow the example set up by Donetsk – request independence and join Russia.

Latvia’s current Defence Minister Raimonds Vejonis distances himself from the matter, referencing his previous decision not to dwell on such statements. In spite of this, he continues to receive angry comments from society. According to the people, such a position of a minister sounds more like «I don’t care» or «leave me alone».

Public figures express deep concern over the fact that Kremlin’s main television channel shows how the most popular politician of the Union of Greens and Farmers – Lembergs – openly says NATO is a threat to Europe and Russia. They add that Lembergs’ party For Latvia and Ventspils should be expelled from UGF.

Unity’s representative, MEP of the European Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee Inese Vaidere told BNN that Lembergs most recent statements came as a complete surprise for her. She believes such an attitude towards this matter is irresponsible. «NATO is the only guarantee of Latvia’s security at the moment. Mr Lembergs might not have noticed what is currently going on in Ukraine and what happened in Moldova and Georgia after Russia’s attempts to create the Eurasian Union or even restore the Soviet Union, hoping to include these countries in it,» – said Vaidere.

«It is unfathomable how the Union of Greens and Farmers could propose a person with such views as a possible candidate for the post of Prime Minister of Latvia. We can only imagine Latvia’s fate if he had become Prime Minister at some point,» – says MEP and Chairman of For Fatherland and Freedom/ LNNK party Roberts Zīle.

He believes UGF should decide whether they, as the political party responsible for Defence Ministry and Latvia’s ties to NATO, represent Latvia as a country tied to Western values or a country turned towards Kremlin’s Eurasian Union ideology.

«These two political vectors cannot meet. This is why we expect this political party to provide a clear opinion and make a political choice – either such statements are acceptable for them or they are not. If UGF remains silent, then there is a high probability that this party may form a coalition with Harmony Centre or any other pro-Kremlin party that may end up in the Saeima after the elections. This scenario is very dangerous, because it may lead to Latvia’s exit from NATO and notable increase of Russia’s influence,» – believes Zīle.

Ref: 102.109.109.4235


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  1. mike walsh says:

    So, without a shred of evidence, Russia is found to be guilty of the downing of the Malayan airliner tragedy (Ukrainian debacle and destruction of the God Almighty buck). This is pure Stalin Show Trial politics.

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    • Linda says:

      Prove that Russia is not supplying the hardware!

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      • mike walsh says:

        TEN QUESTIONS FOR THE UKRAINIAN AUTHORITIES

        1. Immediately after the tragedy, the Ukrainian authorities, naturally, blamed it on the self-defense forces. What are these accusations based on?

        2. Can Kiev explain in detail how it uses Buk missile launchers in the conflict zone? And why were these systems deployed there in the first place, seeing as the self-defense forces don’t have any planes?

        3. Why are the Ukrainian authorities not doing anything to set up an international commission? When will such a commission begin its work?

        4. Would the Ukrainian Armed Forces be willing to let international investigators see the inventory of their air-to-air and surface-to-air missiles, including those used in SAM launchers?

        5. Will the international commission have access to tracking data from reliable sources regarding the movements of Ukrainian war planes on the day of the tragedy?
        6. Why did Ukrainian air traffic controllers allow the plane to deviate from the regular route to the north, towards “the anti-terrorist operation zone”?

        7. Why was airspace over the war zone not closed for civilian flights, especially since the area was not entirely covered by radar navigation systems?

        8. How can official Kiev comment on reports in the social media, allegedly by a Spanish air traffic controller who works in Ukraine, that there were two Ukrainian military planes flying alongside the Boeing 777 over Ukrainian territory?

        9. Why did Ukraine’s Security Service start working with the recordings of communications between Ukrainian air traffic controllers and the Boeing crew and with the data storage systems from Ukrainian radars without waiting for international investigators?

        10. What lessons has Ukraine learned from a similar incident in 2001, when a Russian Tu-154 crashed into the Black Sea? Back then, the Ukrainian authorities denied any involvement on the part of Ukraine’s Armed Forces until irrefutable evidence proved official Kiev to be guilty.

        11. Why has Kiev refused to accept an international commission inquiry?

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        • jj says:

          With the exception of adding an 11th question (which is completely untrue anyway), this is word for word the same as an article appearing in RT.com.

          We can read that ourselves without you needing to copy it here.

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          • mike walsh says:

            Here is freedom to him who would speak, / Here is freedom to him who would write; / For there is none ever feared that the truth should be heard, / Save him whom the truth would indict! – ROBERT BURNS (1759–96).

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