RIGA - If Russia is found to be behind the mindedrecent damage to underwater infrastructure, NATO should close the Baltic Sea to shipping, Latvian President Edgars Rinkevics told Latvian Television last night.
Speaking about the recent damage to underwater infrastructure at sea, Rinkevics said that the results of the investigation should be awaited. At the same time, he re that NATO would step up patrols in the Baltic Sea in the aftermath.
"I would say that if we see incidents of this kind, then in my understanding NATO should simply close the Baltic Sea to shipping. This can be done. Of course, it is also a question of a whole series of international law of the sea," the President said.
If the Finnish and Estonian investigations clearly prove Russia's culpability in damaging the infrastructure, Rinkevics believes the discussion should be about how to close the Baltic Sea.
Continuing his thoughts, the President pointed out that certain measures can be taken in the Baltic Sea and ships can be stopped, but these issues have not yet been discussed within NATO because the results of the investigations are not yet available.
Concrete facts are needed to start talking to the allies, Rinkevics said. At the same time, he acknowledged that a naval closure would be a solution that would be "on the table".
As reported, NATO and Allies are stepping up patrols in the Baltic Sea following recent damage to undersea infrastructure in the region, the Alliance said on its website on Wednesday.
The increased measures include additional surveillance and reconnaissance flights, including with maritime patrol aircraft, NATO AWACS planes, and drones. A fleet of four NATO minehunters is also being dispatched to the area.