US mulls deploying Patriot missiles to Estonia: Prime minister
Iran Press TV
Mon Jul 31, 2017 6:37AM
Estonia's prime minister says he has held talks with US Vice President Mike Pence over the possible deployment by Washington of the Patriot missile system to the Baltic state amid rising tensions between NATO states and Russia.
Following a Sunday meeting with Pence in the Estonian capital, Tallinn, Juri Ratas said Washington is considering deploying Patriot surface-to-air missiles in Estonia.
"We spoke about it today, but we didn't talk about a date or time," the premier told state broadcaster ERR.
"We talked about ... [Russian] military maneuvers near the Estonian border... and how Estonia, the United States and NATO should monitor them," Ratas added.
For his part, Pence reiterated US support for its East European and Baltic allies.
"Our allies in Eastern Europe can be confident that the United States of America stands with them," he said.
Estonia was the first destination in Pence's European tour, which will also take him to Georgia and Montenegro.
Moscow-Tallinn ties soured in 1991, when Estonia separated from the ex-Soviet Union and later joined both the EU and NATO in 2004.
Ahead of Pence's visit, the Georgian army began a two-week military exercise with the United States along with a group of mainly NATO states, including Britain, Germany, Turkey, Ukraine, Slovenia and Armenia on Sunday.
The US official plans to address the military drill participants on Tuesday.
Relations between Russia and the NATO military alliance started to deteriorate in 2014 over the crisis in eastern Ukraine, where Kiev's army is engaged in deadly fighting with pro-Moscow forces.
Russia sees NATO's military expansion near its borders as a security threat.
Russia marks Navy Day with drills
As the Georgia-US wargames kicked off, Russia launched its own military maneuvers to mark national Navy Day.
The naval parades spanned across 9 time zones within the country, as well as in the port of Tartus in Syria, where Russian forces are fighting Daesh terrorists.
More than 100 military vessels as well as some 1,500 naval forces took part in the drills.
Six Russian vessels and the newest diesel submarine from the Black Sea Fleet 'Krasnodar' paraded the waters of Tartus. Russian fighter aircraft from the Khmeimim airbase supported the sea maneuvers from the air.
President Vladimir Putin attended the parade in St. Petersburg, where he announced that 30 new vessels would join the Russian Navy fleet this year.
The Russian head of state has accused NATO of trying to embroil Moscow in a military confrontation by constant provocative actions.
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