British Defense Secretary Warns Putin Could Target Baltics Next
Feb. 19 2015 11:27
LONDON — Russian President Vladimir Putin poses a “real and present danger” to Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania and NATO is getting ready to repel any possible aggression, British Defense Secretary Michael Fallon said Thursday.
Fallon, in comments published in The Times and Daily Telegraph newspapers, said Putin could launch a campaign of undercover tactics to try to destabilize the three former Soviet republics, now on NATO’s eastern flank.
“I’m worried about Putin,” said Fallon, saying it was “a very real and present danger” that Russia would seek to replicate the tactics it used to unsettle eastern Ukraine and Crimea in the Baltic states.
“I’m worried about his pressure on the Baltics, the way he is testing NATO. NATO has to be ready for any kind of aggression from Russia whatever form it takes. NATO is getting ready,” he said.
Fallon made his comments after Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko called for UN peacekeepers to be deployed to monitor a cease-fire in east Ukraine, a proposal pro-Russia rebels said would breach a peace deal.
Fallon earlier this month said Britain would send four Typhoon fighter jets again this year to help NATO with air policing in the Baltic states, promising up to 1,000 British troops would also join a NATO rapid reaction force.
Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius said Russia posed a threat to the wider region, including to Moldova, which on Wednesday chose a pro-European businessman as prime minister.
“Russia is behaving aggressively now as we speak,” Linkevicius told BBC radio.
“I really do see threats to all countries … I shouldn’t say just to the Baltic states but also with regard to others and NATO has to respond and be ready for these new threats.”
NATO would react to any threat to his own country’s territorial integrity, he said.
“If we fail to react properly to what’s happening in Ukraine there will be a big temptation [for Russia] to further instigate situations elsewhere and then we will face a bigger problem,” Linkevicius said.
“By acting too late, doing too little … we are contributing to the escalation of the conflict.” http://www.themoscowtimes.com/news/article/british-defense-secretary-warns-putin-could-target-baltics-next/516203.html