Latvia’s foreign minister has warned of a risk of an “incident” between NATO troops and Russia amid the border crisis in Lithuania, Financial Times reported on Sunday.
Edgars Rinkēvičs told the Financial Times that there was a greater possibility of “misunderstandings, some actions that are not approved by superiors” when Moscow holds joint military drills with Belarus in September, Zapad-2021.
“You have a border crisis, you have an important military exercise on the borders of the NATO countries, you also have a greater presence on our side, the Lithuanian side, the Estonian side, the Polish side of the border guards and the military formations. Of course, this is increasing the possibility of incidents,” said Rinkēvičs.
“This definitely has a pretty high potential for incidents. Of course, if someone is planning some deliberate provocations, then it can be seen,” he added. “But honestly, I don’t think there is any interest in escalating that to a full-scale military provocation.“
His warning coincides with what Vilnius calls “hybrid aggression” from Belarus. After Alexander Lukashenko threatened in May to send "migrants and drugs" to Europe, some 4,000 people, mostly Iraqis, have crossed into Lithuania.
Rinkēvičs also told FT it was “a very clear case of hybrid warfare” and migrants “being used as a weapon” against the EU and Lithuania.