Baltic states mull missile system against Russia
Iran Press TV
Fri May 29, 2015 12:42AM
The three Northern European countries on the Baltic Sea are considering the deployment of a joint air defense system in response to what they describe as security concerns over Russia's activities in the region.
On Thursday, defense ministers from Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania came together in the northern Lithuanian city of Panevezys alongside their Ukrainian counterpart, Stepan Poltorak, to exchange viewpoints on the issue.
'We plan to analyze the possibility of developing a medium-range air defense system to strengthen our defense capabilities,' Lithuanian Defense Minister Juozas Olekas told reporters, adding, 'External threats lead us to cooperate more.'
Baltic nations have been on alert ever since Ukraine's mainly Russian-speaking regions of Donetsk and Lugansk in the east witnessed deadly clashes between pro-Russia forces and the Ukrainian army in mid-April 2014.
Kiev and its Western allies accuse Russia of having a hand in the chaotic situation in eastern Ukraine. Moscow categorically denies the accusations as baseless and says the United States is responsible for the escalating tensions in Ukraine by sending arms in support of the Ukrainian army.
Poltorak said on Thursday that as many as 100 Ukrainian soldiers have died and 500 others have been wounded since the leaders of Germany, France, Russia and Ukraine met in the Belarusian capital city of Minsk on February 11-12, and agreed on the withdrawal of heavy weapons from Ukraine's frontlines and a ceasefire, which officially went into effect late on February 14. The warring sides, however, have continued to engage in sporadic clashes.
'We consider there is a high risk of further escalation of the situation,' the high-ranking Ukrainian military figure commented.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko also announced on May 8 that almost 7,000 civilians and 1,657 Ukrainian troops had lost their lives in the fighting.
Earlier this month, the Baltic states announced that they would formally ask the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) to station several thousand permanent troops in their region.
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