Russian navy spotted off Latvia coast

Russian navy spotted off Latvia coast

Latvia says it has spotted three Russian naval vessels close to its territorial waters.

The Latvian military tweeted that the three corvettes, identified as the Liven 551, Serpukhov 603 and Morshansk 824, had been seen 7km from their territorial waters and 22km from the coast.

The Russian newspaper Fontanka reported the sightings came in response to the arrival of a US destroyer in the region.

The newspaper said that the Morshansk and a handful of other ships were stationed near St Petersburg’s port at Kronshtadt but were redeployed to the Baltic.

The anticipated arrival of the cruise missile-equipped USS Carney prompted the manoeuvres, the paper said.

It was suspected that the naval parade for Victory in Europe Day would not happen today (Tuesday), Newsweek reported but the state-run news agency RIA Novosti said the parade was not cancelled but fewer ships would take part than had been planned.

Russian aircraft and vessels were recently spotted in the area. At the end of April, a Russian Kilo-class submarine was detected near Latvian waters while earlier in the month warships ventured close to its coast.

Russia’s military aircraft and naval vessels were spotted near Latvia’s border 209 times last year.

Admiral Michelle Howard, Nato’s chief in Naples, in April said Russian naval activity in Europe exceeded Cold War deployments. “We’re seeing activity that we didn’t even see when it was the Soviet Union. It’s precedential activity,” the US naval commander for Europe and Africa told Reuters. “They’re a global navy, I understand that. But the activity in this theatre has substantially moved up in the last couple of years.”

Nato has boosted its numbers in the region with four, 1,000-strong battalions deployed to Poland, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia as part of Operation Atlantic Resolve.

In March, the first of 800 UK troops were deployed to Estonia. Under an agreement with former Russian president Boris Yeltsin, Nato is not allowed to permanently base troops in the three Baltic states.

A Russian corvette-class vessel. Picture credit: Wikimedia 

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