UPNorth – The Northern European
Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia Should Not Exist
Nikolay Mezhevich, a St. Petersburg professor who heads the Russian Association of Baltic Research, says that “for Russia the [three Baltic] countries should not exist” and that there are no prospects for an improvement in relations because the Baltic regimes can function only as anti-Russian actors.
In an interview with Rubaltic’s Aleksandr Nosovich following a conference at the Kant Baltic Federal University in Kaliningrad on relations between Russia and Poland, Mezhevich says that relations with Warsaw while bad now can improve but those with the Baltic countries never can.
Asked by Nosovich what the “optimal” Russian policy toward the Baltic countries should be, the St. Petersburg professor is blunt: “For Russia, there are no such countries. Legally, they exist, but we do not maintain any economic or political contacts with them.” The Baltics are thus “a dead zone, a Chernobyl.” He nonetheless opposes breaking diplomatic relations with them. “Why give them that happiness?” Mezhevich asks rhetorically. “They are always dreaming about this. But the presence of diplomatic ties does not mean that me should develop any contacts with them because in these countries already nothing will change.”
Moscow Slams US
Moscow has accused the US of a “gross violation of international law” after being given two days to shut a Russian diplomatic outpost in San Francisco. The departing Russians burnt papers as the clock ticked down. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Friday that Moscow would “reply with firmness” also that they “needed time to study Washington’s directive” and to decide on a response. “We will have a tough response to the things that come totally out of the blue to hurt us and are driven solely by the desire to spoil our relations with the US,” Lavrov said in a televised meeting. The measure is the most serious by the US against Russia since 1986, when the two powers expelled dozens of each other’s diplomats. US-Russia ties have fallen to their lowest point since the Cold War after the Kremlin’s invasion of Crimea in 2014.
The Moscow Times
May Buy 5 Rocket Engines From Russia
A U.S.-based space company ,United Launch Alliance, is expected to confirm plans to buy five previously banned Russian rocket engines by late September, the Kommersant business daily reported. ULA reportedly has been engaged in secret talks for over a year with Russia’s Energomash on the purchase of 10 RD-180s. Initial plans to sign a contract were scrapped because of the U.S. presidential campaign, according to Kommersant. Following Russia’s annexation of the Crimea in 2014, U.S. banned the use of Russian engines for U.S. military and spy satellite launches after 2019. The ban has been partly lifted given the U.S. space industry’s reliance on the RD-180 engines.
Stars and Stripes
Ungunned Stryker Boosts NATO Firepower on Eastern Flank
WIESBADEN, Germany — The 2nd Cavalry Regiment will begin fielding the first of a new fleet of upgraded Stryker armored combat vehicles next summer, the result of a two-year push to give the unit greater range and firepower in response to concerns about a more assertive Russia. The decision to speed development of the upgraded Strykers was made in 2015, not long after the Russian intervention in the Ukraine. The intervention spurred NATO to enhance its presence along its eastern frontier.
Currently, there are four multinational battle groups in the Baltic states and eastern Poland, including an 800-soldier squadron from the 2nd Cavalry. The regiment is one of only two full-time combat units stationed in Europe.
Finnish President Niinistö: European Defence Force Necessary
Finnish President Sauli Niinistö says the development of a common European defense force will require a great deal of patience and time. He nevertheless senses that movement in this direction is already underway.
“EU defense is still a long way off, in terms of an objective. It will require substantial changes in attitude, and long-term advancement towards the goal in small increments,” he told Yle in a Saturday morning interview.
“It seems to be the case that Europeans will perhaps slowly have to forsake the notion that NATO and the US provide security, and do something about it themselves. Fortunately, Finland has already made quite a bit of progress in this area,” Niinistö said in the interview.
NATO-OTAN North Atlantic Treaty Organization
NATO Battlegroups in Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia, and Poland Fully Operational
NATO’s four multinational battlegroups in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland are finally fully operational. This milestone comes after the Canadian-led battlegroup based at Camp Ādaži in Latvia became the fourth battlegroup to complete its Certification Exercise.
Four multinational battlegroups totaling approximately 4,500 troops have deployed to the Baltic nations and Poland. Canada leads the battlegroup in Latvia, with contributions by Albania, Italy, Poland, Slovenia and Spain. Germany leads the battlegroup in Lithuania, with contributions by Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Norway. The United Kingdom leads the battlegroup in Estonia, with contributions by France. The United States leads the battlegroup in Poland, with contributions by Romania and the UK.
Task and Purpose
Russian And NATO Pilots In Tense Standoffs
Some 25,000 troops from the U.S. and 23 other countries are taking part in the Saber Guardian military exercise in Bulgaria, Hungary, and Romania this month — the drills are designed as a deterrent and are “larger in both scale and scope” than previous exercises, U.S. European Command said in June. U.S. bombers also traveled to the UK in June in preparation for two separate multilateral exercises in the Baltics and elsewhere in Europe that month.
Those military exercises come ahead of war games planned for September by Russia and Belarus. Those exercises could involve up to 100,000 troops and include nuclear weapons training.
Lithuania- 5,000 Strong Military Drill
Lithuania is kicking off an international military exercise with more than 5,000 troops from nine of its allies across three different parts of the country, Baltic news site Delfi reports.
The land-training drill also will include the 1,200-strong NATO battalion deployment in Lithuania. One of the foreign contributions is a German-led brigade in Rukla, a small town in central Lithuania. British, U.S., Polish and Portuguese troops will also take part.
Canadian troops lead NATO mission on the Latvia-Russian Border
As Canadian soldiers join NATO troops in Latvia as part of Operation Reassurance, the tensions between Russia and its Baltic neighbors are especially felt in Latvian border towns.
Operation Reassurance is a multinational NATO mission aimed at discouraging Russian aggression in central and Eastern Europe. Canada is deploying a total of 450 troops to Latvia to lead a battle group of soldiers from five other NATO countries: Italy, Spain, Poland, Slovenia and Albania.
The battle group is hoping to deter Russian troops from entering Latvian towns like Karsava, which is close to the Russian border and has a large Russian population. Following Russian annexation of Crimea in Ukraine more than three years ago, there are fears that similar scenarios could occur in Latvia.
Latvians and Lithuanians Back EU Military Alliance
A majority of Latvians and Lithuanians are in favor of an EU army amid simmering tensions in the Baltic region with their neighbor Russia, Latvian news agency LETA reports.
More than a half of Latvia’s population (59 percent) and over two thirds of Lithuania’s (71 percent) back the idea of an EU army—a divisive proposal among the bloc’s members, an Euro barometer survey carried out in April shows.
Neighboring Estonia, the northernmost of the Baltics, was just shy of majority support for the idea of an EU army, with 48 percent backing. The highest support for an EU army came from the Netherlands and Belgium (both 74 percent).
Russia sends 2,500 troops to Latvian and Estonian Borders
Russia has called 2,500 troops to an airborne military drill in its Pskov region, bordering NATO allies Latvia and Estonia, state news agency Itar-Tass reported on Wednesday. The drill will involve 40 aircraft, with airborne troops practicing landing in unfamiliar lands. The exercises were described as “counterrorist” drills.
Estonia and EU to assist Ukraine implement Cyber Security
The e-Governance Academy, an independent Estonian mission-based non-profit think tank and consultancy organization, founded in 2002 by the United Nations Development Program, Open Society Institute, and the Government of Estonia for the creation and spread of knowledge and best practice concerning e-governance, e-democracy, cyber security and the development of open information societies, has completed its public procurement as a part of the EGOV4UKRAINE project of the Ukrainian U-LEAD administrative reform support program, which will create an inter-institutional secure data exchange
Cold War Tensions Rise as Canadian Soldiers on Latvian Soil
The Canadians are the first of 450 soldiers that are expected to land in Latvia over the next week to maintain a stronger NATO presence near the capitol in a tactical position called the “enhanced forward presence” in military parlance.
They will lead a battle group composed of a multinational force of troops and heavy equipment from several European countries including Italy, Spain, Poland, Slovenia and Albania. The mission is expected to cost $348.5 million over the next three years.
Maj. John Hagemeyer, a company commander, jumped off the plane carrying his kit bag and exclaimed to CBC, “It’s good to finally be here. We want to be here. Latvia wants us here.”