NATO’s new steps towards strengthening its military presence in the Baltic states near the Russian borders may destabilize the military and political situation in the region, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova pointed on Wednesday, stressing that Russia’s proposals on de-escalation remain in force, Russian media report.
Zakharova also underlined that NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg’s claims that these steps were defensive looked insincere in this situation, especially considering that US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin didn’t try to conceal that one of the bloc’s priority tasks is ‘deterring Russia’.
The Russian diplomat’s statement comes in light of the recently announced commissioning of the Latvian Lielvarde military aerodrome after its reconstruction.
Media reports pointed that Lielvarde airbase is outfitted with modern air navigation equipment and is capable of 24/7 receiving aircraft of the latest generation irrespective of weather conditions.
The commander of the Latvian Air Force, Colonel Viesturs Masulis, stressed that the new facility is crucial for the collective security of Latvia and the whole Alliance, offering allied planes more options to significantly enhance operational air mobility.
Colonel Masulis underscored that Lielvarde Airfield has been certified according to Instrumental Flight Rules (IFR), positioning itself on the global NATO map and proving that Latvia is reliable and equal partner to NATO.
The freshly certified airfield will give NATO additional advantage: they can use the airfield as back-up strip for the fighter planes air policing the Baltic region and the airfield is also suitable for unmanned aerial vehicles that need the runway and offers aeronavigation and ground services.
Lielvarde Airfield can also prove as valuable asset for the airlift capability of nations contributing to NATO’s enhanced Forward Presence (eFP) battle group, whose troops, vehicles and equipment had to travel through Riga International Airport until now or use the military bases of Latvia’s neighbours to get to Latvia.