Russia offers help to Baltics in clearing seas of mines

  • 2000-08-03
KALININGRAD (BNS) - Russia said on July 31 it is ready to offer help to the Baltic states in clearing their waters of naval mines and other explosives left there during World War II and later.

"This is the first time that I have met with my colleagues from the Baltic states like this," said Russian naval commander Vladimir Kuroyedov. The problems of the joint clearing of the Baltic Sea of mines should have been discussed earlier."

Kuroyedov said Russia was weighing the possibility of handing over to the Baltic states the maps of sea areas mined by the Soviet Union during the war, as well as data about blank and live ammunition that failed to explode or was lost in the course of exercises later.

The Russian navy chief also said Russia was discussing the possibility of sending Baltic Fleet mine trawlers to help clear Estonian and Lithuanian waters of explosives.

Estonian navy chief Cmdr. Jaan Kapp said Estonia was interested in Russia's participation in minesweeping operations but that concrete plans were still in the working. Kapp said Estonia will carry out a joint minesweeping operation with Sweden next year and that Sweden is planning to invite also Russian vessels to take part in the effort.

Latvian naval commander Ilmars Lesinskis said about 84,000 mines were dropped in the Baltic Sea during World War II.