Russian ambassador to Latvia Alexander Veshnyakov (photo: twitter)
The establishment of NATO military bases in the Baltics will give rise to an arms race, Russian Ambassador in Latvia Alexander Veshnyakov has warned.
The ambassador told Latvian Radio 4 show doma laukums Latvia would have no control over such bases as they would be run by people 'thousands of miles away' for geopolitical ends. Latvian residents would become 'hostages' to such a decision, the ambassador said.
Latvia's defense ministry said Veshnyakov's statement were 'unfounded'
The Russian Ambassador also commented on German Chancellor Angela Merkel's recent visit in Latvia, indicating that, in his opinion, Merkel had opposed the establishment of NATO military bases in the Baltic region.
Merkel expressed support for a more efficient defense infrastructure instead of long-term deployment of troops in the Baltic region.
However, Baltic officials have called for permanent NATO presence in the region amid the crisis in the Ukraine.
The decision by NATO allies to consolidate security in the Baltic countries and Poland should be seen as response to Russia's activities, the Defense Ministry's spokesman Kaspars Galkins told the LETA news agency.
Russia has violated a number of international agreements by occupying the Crimean peninsula, destabilizing the situation in Ukraine's east, building military bases close to the borders with Latvia and the other Baltic countries, regularly sending aircraft into the Baltic air space without prior notification, and organizing military exercises near the borders with the Baltic countries that are based on aggressive scenarios, said Galkins.
"Latvia is a full-fledged NATO member state, and decisions on the presence of allies in Latvia for improving the country's defense capacity can only be taken unanimously by Latvia and other NATO member states, therefore any statements about Latvian residents being held hostage or other geopolitical reasons at play are unfounded," emphasized the Defense Ministry.