Latvian International Minister Edgars Rinkēvičs has urged the U.S.-led NATO alliance to not “overreact” to President Vladimir Putin’sthat Russia will deploy in Belarus, which shares borders with each Latvia — a NATO member — and Ukraine.
“Let’s face it, Russian nuclear weapons have already been deployed in Kaliningrad, close to our borders, even earlier than [Russia’s 2014 invasion of] Crimea began,” Rinkēvičs advised CBS Information. “I might view this as some form of bargaining chip. One thing to blackmail our societies.”
He stated he “wouldn’t over-dramatize” this transfer, however known as for added sanctions towards Belarus and Russia. Rinkēvičs stated he didn’t take into account Belarus a sovereign state, however relatively a “a part of a Russian navy district.”
Putin stated over the weekend that Russia would deploy nuclear weapons in Belarus on fighter jets and Iskander hypersonic missiles, which have a spread of round 300 miles.
Rinkēvičs additionally expressed hopes for an expanded NATO, when the alliance meets in July. He stated he’d prefer to see 32 members on the summit in Lithuania, alluding to Finland and Sweden’s stalled bids to be ratified because the NATO’s latest members.
Finland inched a step nearer to NATO membership after the Hungarian parliament ratified the nation’s bid Monday. The opposite member holding out on backing that bid, Turkey, is anticipated to ratify Finland quickly, after Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan stated his nation would begin the method.
Sweden stays blocked as a result of Turkey refuses to again its bid till disputes between the 2 nations are resolved. Turkey has accused Sweden of harboring members of Kurdish militant teams that Ankara considers terrorists.
Rinkēvičs stated he hoped the “allies can resolve excellent points so Sweden will even be capable of take part.”
He additionally stated that assist for Ukraine, because it continues to carry the Russian invasion at bay, has solely grown stronger in his nation, and he argued that now isn’t the time for a peace deal. Peace negotiations would solely enable Russia “to regroup, to get stronger, and to renew” its assault, stated Rinkēvičs.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken warned earlier this week that requires a ceasefire in Ukraine could possibly be a part of a “cynical lure” supported by Russian allies.
As for Russian conscripts making an attempt to keep away from being despatched to the entrance strains by looking for refuge in Latvia, Rinkēvičs stated Latvia’s door was closed. Latvia and different Baltic states instituted a coverage prohibiting fleeing conscripts from entry into the international locations as a result of they pose a safety threat.
“They aren’t anti-war folks. They aren’t anti-Putin folks. They aren’t able to cease the battle,” he stated, “and in that case, we’re not prepared to just accept them.”
However there proceed to be pathways for civilians to enter Latvia from Russia, Rinkēvičs famous.
In December, Latvia canceled the license of the exiled Russian tv station TV Rain, after deeming the outlet a nationwide safety risk. TV Rain got here below criticism after its reporters referred to Russian conscripts as “our navy,” and the community confirmed a map that portrayed Ukraine’s occupied Crimean Peninsula as a part of Russia.
Rinkēvičs known as the Russian journalists’ remarks “utterly unacceptable,” however didn’t remark additional concerning the pending TV Rain litigation.