Putin a threat to Baltic states, Western officials say

 

LONDON, (Reuters) – Senior Western officials accused Russia on Thursday of redrawing the map of Europe by force and posing a threat to the Baltic states.

Russian President Vladimir Putin was a “real and present danger” to Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania and NATO was getting ready to repel any aggression, British Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said.

Valdis Dombrovskis, vice president of the European Commission, said a stronger NATO presence was needed on the alliance’s borders.

“Russia’s aggression against Ukraine is very worrying for Baltic states,” Dombrovskis, a former prime minister of Latvia, said at an event in London.

“It shows that Russia is looking to redraw Europe’s 21st century borders by force, and it must be noted that Ukraine is not the first country to face Russia’s aggression.”

Fallon, whose remarks were published as Britain scrambled jets to see off Russian Bear bombers, said Putin could launch a campaign of undercover tactics to try to destabilise the three former Soviet republics, all now members of NATO.

“I’m worried about Putin,” Fallon told the Times and Daily Telegraph newspapers, saying there was “a very real and present danger” Russia would adopt the same tactics it used to unsettle eastern Ukraine and Crimea.

“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.

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