Some Russian citizens in Estonia voluntarily turning in firearms

Some Russian citizens in Estonia voluntarily turning in firearms

Police officials in Estonia said that some Russian citizens living in Estonia have begun voluntarily relinquishing their firearms as the country prepares for the implementation of planned changes to weapons permits and firearm ownership, according to the Police and Border Guard Board (PPA). Police Lt. Riita Proosa told ERR that while they can't specify an exact timeline, should the new legislation be implemented as planned, some 1,300 individuals' weapons permits will be revoked, approximately half of whom are Russian citizens. "After a weapons permit has been revoked, the owner of a firearm is required to turn it in to police…
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Estonian PM tells nation to prepare for blackouts if Russia switches off power grid

Estonian PM tells nation to prepare for blackouts if Russia switches off power grid

By Andrius Sytas VILNIUS, Sept 23 (Reuters) - Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas told her nation that power blackouts are possible if Russia kicks the Baltic states from the joint power grid, as she announced a snap defence readiness exercise. "We must also be prepared for Russia might disconnect Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania from their electricity grid", she said in a televised address on Thursday evening, according to the government website. "It would be wise to be prepared for possible power outages – that includes public authorities, companies, and every individual", she added, describing any disruptions as "temporary". Almost 3,000…
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Lithuania raises army’s readiness level amid Russia’s military mobilisation

Lithuania raises army’s readiness level amid Russia’s military mobilisation

VILNIUS (Reuters) - Lithuania raised the readiness level of its army's rapid response force "to prevent any provocations from the Russian side", defence minister Arvydas Anusauskas said after Moscow announced a partial military mobilisation. "Since Russia's military mobilisation will also be carried out in the Kaliningrad region, in our neighborhood, Lithuania cannot just watch," he wrote on Facebook. European Union members Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia, which border Russia, will not offer refuge to any Russians fleeing Moscow's mobilisation of troops, their ministers said on Wednesday. One-way flights out of Russia were rocketing in price and selling out fast as President…
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Latvia says it won’t offer refuge to Russians fleeing mobilisation; Flights out of Russia sell out

Latvia says it won’t offer refuge to Russians fleeing mobilisation; Flights out of Russia sell out

European Union member Latvia, which borders Russia, will not offer refuge to any Russians fleeing Moscow's mobilisation of troops, Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics said in a tweet on Wednesday, citing security concerns. President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday ordered Russia's first mobilisation since World War Two and warned that Moscow would defend itself with the might of all its vast arsenal if faced with a nuclear threat from the West. Flights out of Russia sell out Meanwhile, one-way flights out of Russia were selling out fast on Wednesday after President Vladimir Putin ordered the immediate call-up of 300,000 reservists. Putin's…
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Estonia purchases Piorun anti-aircraft missile systems from Poland

Estonia purchases Piorun anti-aircraft missile systems from Poland

WARSAW, Sept 7 (Reuters) - Estonia on Wednesday signed a deal with Poland to purchase Piorun anti-aircraft missile systems, designed to target low-flying aircraft such as helicopters and drones. "This is a historic moment...for our bilateral cooperation and for our cooperation in the defence field," Estonia's Defence Minister Hanno Pevkur said during a news conference in Poland. "It's very important for us, for the region, for the region of the Baltic sea and especially for the NATO Eastern flank." Mesko, the Polish defence technology company producing the Piorun system, will deliver 300 missiles and 100 launch mechanisms to Estonia, according…
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UPDATED: German businessman named as owner of jet that crashed in Baltic

UPDATED: German businessman named as owner of jet that crashed in Baltic

BERLIN, Sept 5 (Reuters) - A private jet that crashed into the Baltic Sea off Latvia after flying half way across Europe from Spain without responding to controllers' calls belonged to German businessman Karl-Peter Griesemann, his company, Quick Air, said on Monday. The jet, an Austria-registered Cessna 551, left Jerez in southern Spain on Sunday afternoon, turning at Paris and Cologne before flying straight out to the Baltic Sea, where it spiralled into the water east of Gotland, flight tracking data showed. "I can confirm that it was the private jet of our owner, Karl-Peter Griesemann," said a spokesperson for…
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EU states bordering Russia searching for ways to halt tourist entry

EU states bordering Russia searching for ways to halt tourist entry

European Union member States bordering with the Russian Federation, including Estonia, are actively holding talks to find jointly ways to limit scope for Russian citizens entering the European Union through their territory. Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Finland and Poland wish to curb Russian citizens' tourist visa entries into the EU, on the grounds that the citizens of a country that had attacked Ukraine without basis also have no moral right to go on vacation in Europe, while Ukrainians are being killed in defense of their homeland.  While the EU suspended civilian aviation entry from Russia soon after the start of the…
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While rest of EU mourns, Baltics recall Gorbachev as agent of repression

While rest of EU mourns, Baltics recall Gorbachev as agent of repression

VILNIUS (Reuters) - Widely praised in the West as a towering statesman who helped end the Cold War, Mikhail Gorbachev was remembered in the Baltic states as a repressive autocrat who unsuccessfully tried to stop them from breaking away from the Soviet Union. The last Soviet leader, who died aged 91 on Tuesday, tried to prevent Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania from seceding after all three declared independence in 1990 after five decades under Moscow's rule. In January 1991, Soviet tanks rolled into the Lithuanian capital Vilnius to stamp out the pro-independence movement. Fourteen civilians died, some crushed under the vehicles'…
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Estonia aims to stop most Russians from entering country within weeks

Estonia aims to stop most Russians from entering country within weeks

 (Reuters) - Estonia aims to stop most Russians from entering the country within weeks, if possible acting in concert with its regional partners, Foreign Minister Urmas Reinsalu said. "It takes some time, but I think timing is also critical, looking at these vast numbers of Russian citizens entering," Reinsalu told Reuters in Prague after a two-day meeting with his EU counterparts. The ministers' meeting decided to make it more expensive and complicated for Russians to obtain visas to travel to the bloc, but stopped short of agreeing to the EU-wide visa ban that Ukraine and several member states had called…
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Lithuania warns Baltic states, Poland and Finland could ban Russian tourists

Lithuania warns Baltic states, Poland and Finland could ban Russian tourists

European Union members Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Finland, which all share a border with Russia, may stop Russian tourists from entering their countries if the EU does not enact a union-wide ban, Lithuania's foreign minister said. "I have talked to ministers from all these countries... I don't see many differences politically," Gabrielius Landsbergis told reporters in Vilnius. EU foreign ministers are due to discuss on Monday an EU-wide visa ban for Russian nationals, which is supported mainly by the five countries bordering Russia over its invasion of Ukraine. German Chancellor Olaf Scholz opposed such a ban on Monday, saying…
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Estonian PM Kallas speaks up in support of Finnish colleague Marin after dancing video leak

Estonian PM Kallas speaks up in support of Finnish colleague Marin after dancing video leak

Prime Minister Kaja Kallas has spoken up in support of her Finnish counterpart, Sanna Marin, as the latter faces a backlash over a leaked video in which she was dancing with friends, at a private party. "We are all human and I really like to dance," Kallas said, adding that opportunities to do so were, for her, all to few and far between, Postimees reports. Meanwhile sociologist and Tartu city councillor Eveliis Padar (SDE) noted that Kallas would have been likely to have received similar treatment if she had been filmed in such circumstances, adding that this would also be…
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‘Those who think Russia is exhausted are too optimistic’: Lithuania’s former chief of defence

‘Those who think Russia is exhausted are too optimistic’: Lithuania’s former chief of defence

The Russian military in Ukraine suffered a severe blow last week in Crimea, sparking enthusiasm that the tide in the war might be turning. Lithuania’s former chief of defence, Lieutenant General Valdas Tutkus, says such optimism might be premature. Although the Ukrainian forces have had big successes in the region of Kherson – where they have blown up bridges, putting the Russian forces in a precarious situation – Kyiv does not have the capacity to launch a large-scale counter-offensive, Tutkus says in an interview to LRT TV. Moreover, the war may be entering a protracted phase where neither side could…
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SUVs to be requisitioned if Estonia declares defense emergency

SUVs to be requisitioned if Estonia declares defense emergency

SUVs will be requisitioned by the state should Estonia declare martial law or if there is an emergency related to defense, Eesti Ekspress reported. The Defense Resources Agency (Kaitseressursside Amet) is currently contacting owners of large luxury SUVs — such as Toyota Hilux, Land Cruiser, BMW X5 and X6, Audi Q7 and Porsche Cayenne — with the details. Vehicles must be handed over with a full tank of gas and a technical check would be carried out. The Defense Forces can demand owners repair their cars at their own expense if they do not meet requirements. According to the National Defense Act, the state would pay owners…
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Estonia says it repelled major cyber attack

Estonia says it repelled major cyber attack

Estonia has repelled "the most extensive cyber attacks since 2007", shortly after removing Soviet monuments in a region with an ethnic Russian majority. Russian hacker group Killnet claimed responsibility for the attack, stating on its Telegram account on Wednesday it had blocked access to more than 200 state and private Estonian institutions, such as an online citizen identification system. However, an Estonian government official said on Thursday the impact of the attack was limited. "Yesterday, Estonia was subject to the most extensive cyber attacks it has faced since 2007", tweeted Luukas Ilves, undersecretary for digital transformation at Estonia's Ministry of…
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Estonian visa cancellation has ordinary Russians worried

Estonian visa cancellation has ordinary Russians worried

Estonia this week will close its border to more than 50,000 Russians with previously issued visas, the first country in the European Union to do so, making it harder for ordinary Russians to enter EU. Like many of the hundreds of Russians crossing the border each day at the Estonian town Narva, Anna is worried she will not be able to keep coming to Estonia, where she visits the graves of relatives. "We hope that countries will come up with some solution. Maybe they can agree on something. I keep myself away from politics but since my relatives are buried…
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Latvia, Estonia withdraw from China cooperation group

Latvia, Estonia withdraw from China cooperation group

VILNIUS (Reuters) - Latvia and Estonia withdrew from a cooperation group between China and over a dozen Central and Eastern European countries on Thursday, following in the footsteps of Baltic neighbour Lithuania which withdrew last year. The move comes amid Western criticism towards China over escalating military pressure on democratically ruled Taiwan, which China claims as its own territory, and Beijing's strengthening of ties with Russia during the invasion of Ukraine. Relations between Lithuania and China worsened after the former allowed Taiwan to open a de facto embassy late last year. Latvia's Foreign Ministry said the country's continued participation in…
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Estonia to stop Russians from entering with Estonian-issued visas

Estonia to stop Russians from entering with Estonian-issued visas

Estonia said it will from next week prevent most Russians from entering the country with visas issued by Estonian authorities, cutting off a popular route into Europe's passport-free Schengen zone. While exceptions apply, the Foreign Ministry for Estonia, a European Union member, said it will also cease to issue visas to Russians for work, study and business in the country. "We have seen an enormous rise in the number of Russian citizens coming into or passing through Estonia," Foreign Minister Urmas Reinsalu said in a statement. "The possibility they have to visit Estonia, or other parts of Europe via Estonia,…
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Latvia declares Russia a ‘state sponsor of terrorism’

Latvia declares Russia a ‘state sponsor of terrorism’

Latvian MPs on Thursday adopted a statement declaring Russia a "state sponsor of terrorism" and said its actions in Ukraine constituted "targeted genocide against the Ukrainian people". The statement said the parliament "recognises Russia as a state sponsor of terrorism, and calls on other like-minded countries to express the same view". MPs said they considered "Russia's violence against civilians committed in pursuit of political aims as terrorism". They also condemned its use of cluster munitions "to sow fear and indiscriminately kill civilians". The parliament also urged the European Union to stop issuing tourist visas for Russian and Belarusian citizens and…
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Estonia protests to Russia about ‘unacceptable’ violation of its airspace

Estonia protests to Russia about ‘unacceptable’ violation of its airspace

 Estonia summoned the Russian ambassador and formally protested about the violation of its airspace by a Russian helicopter on Tuesday, the foreign ministry said. "Estonia considers this an extremely serious and regrettable incident that is completely unacceptable," the ministry said in a release, saying the helicopter had flown over a point in the southeast of the small Baltic nation without permission. Estonia made an identical complaint to Moscow in June. On Tuesday evening, a Mil Mi-8 helicopter crossed from Russian airspace into Estonian airspace near Koidula border checkpoint unauthorized, the Headquarters of the Estonian Defense Forces (EDF) said. The helicopter…
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UPDATED: Russia’s Gazprom halts gas supplies to Latvia

UPDATED: Russia’s Gazprom halts gas supplies to Latvia

July 30 (Reuters) - Russian gas producer Gazprom GAZP.MM said on Saturday it had stopped sending gas to Latvia after accusing it of violating supply conditions, a move the Baltic country said would have little impact on its gas supplies. Russia has already cut off gas supplies to Poland, Bulgaria, Finland, Netherlands and Denmark, which refused to pay for gas in line with an order by President Vladimir Putin requiring rouble accounts to be set up in a Russian bank. Russia has also halted gas sales to Shell Energy Europe in Germany. In a statement on Saturday, Gazprom did not specify which gas supply…
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Estonia stops issuing visas, residence permits for Russian students

Estonia stops issuing visas, residence permits for Russian students

 (Reuters) - Estonia announced it would no longer issue visas or residence permits for Russian citizens wanting to study in the small Baltic country, saying the invasion of Ukraine threatened national security. The foreign ministry order also ends the practice of granting the right to short-term work to Russians or citizens of ally Belarus who had secured a visa from another European Union state. Estonia belongs to the 27-nation bloc. "The continuation of sanctions against Russia is essential to ensuring relentless pressure on the country," Foreign Minister Urmas Reinsalu said in a statement. "If the sanctions help in stopping Russian…
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Photo story: The International Sand Sculpture Park in Jelgava, Latvia

Photo story: The International Sand Sculpture Park in Jelgava, Latvia

Visitors look at the demo sculpture, a sand replica of Michelangelo's sculpture 'Pieta (The Pity)', made by Latvian sculptors Karlis Ile and Maija Ile at the International Sand Sculpture Park 'Summer Signs 2022' in Jelgava, Latvia.  Seventeen professional sculptors from ten countries - the Czech Republic, Spain, Ukraine, Canada, Turkey, Bulgaria, Mongolia, Estonia, Lithuania, and Latvia - transformed sand into sculptures for the sand sculpture park that will be open to visitors all summer long. Via EPA-EFE/TOMS KALNINS
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Photo Story: City Festival in Kuldiga, Latvia

Photo Story: City Festival in Kuldiga, Latvia

Members of Dutch Bicycle Orchestra perform during city festival in Kuldiga, Latvia. It had already become a tradition that on the third weekend of July, thousands of people go to Kuldiga to enjoy the 'Feast in Kuldiga'. The 2022 festival takes place from 18 to 24 July. Via EPA-EFE/TOMS KALNINS
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Estonian PM regains ruling majority, warns of tough times ahead

Estonian PM regains ruling majority, warns of tough times ahead

TALLINN (Reuters) - The new cabinet of Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas was sworn in on Monday, re-establishing political stability, but she warned of tough times ahead for the economy as energy costs soar and inflation rages in the fall-out from the war in Ukraine. Estonia, a Baltic republic of 1.3 million set to host an increase in NATO troops to ward off possible threats from neighbour Russia, had been under a minority government since June 7 when Kallas cut ties with her junior coalition partner. On July 8 Kallas announced a new three-party coalition of her liberal Reform Party,…
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Estonian parliament confirms PM Kallas to lead new government

Estonian parliament confirms PM Kallas to lead new government

The new Estonian coalition has voted to reappoint Prime Minister Kaja Kallas, in a move likely to ensure stability in the European Union state until a March 2023 election. The three-party coalition of Kallas' liberal Reform Party, the conservative Isamaa Party and the centre-left Social Democratic Party combined have 55 members in the 101-seat parliament. The new government will be sworn in on Monday. Each party will appoint five ministers to the cabinet, with Isamaa's Urmas Reinsalu becoming the Foreign Minister. Kallas has led a minority government since she removed the junior coalition partner, the Centre Party, on June 3…
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UPDATED: Kremlin says work still to be done on EU Kaliningrad transit deal

UPDATED: Kremlin says work still to be done on EU Kaliningrad transit deal

MOSCOW, July 14 (Reuters) - The Kremlin said on Thursday there was still work to be done over a European Union ban on the transit of sanctioned goods to the Russian territory of Kaliningrad. Brussels said earlier this week the transit ban only affected road, not rail, transit, and Lithuania should therefore allow Russia to ship sanctioned goods like concrete, wood and alcohol across EU territory to its Kaliningrad exclave. "Work and contact will continue, because there are still a number of questions to be answered," Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told reporters. Kaliningrad, sandwiched between Poland and Lithuania and cut off from…
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Latvia president calls for compulsory military service for all

Latvia president calls for compulsory military service for all

Latvia may have to increase it defence spending and introduce compulsory military service for its citizens regardless of their gender to contain any possible security risks arising from Russia, President Egils Levits told Reuters. NATO and European Union member Latvia plans to gradually raise its defence budget to 2.5% of gross domestic product by 2025 from around 2% now, as it boosts security after its neighbour Russia sent troops into Ukraine in late February. Levits, 67, said that the existing spending plans covered the building of more military bases to accommodate more troops from NATO allies - an increase agreed…
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UPDATED: Lithuania widens curbs on Kaliningrad trade despite Russian warning

UPDATED: Lithuania widens curbs on Kaliningrad trade despite Russian warning

VILNIUS, July 11 (Reuters) - Lithuania on Monday expanded restrictions on trade through its territory to Russia's Baltic exclave of Kaliningrad, as phase-ins on European Union sanctions against Moscow over its invasion of Ukraine took effect. Additional goods barred from Monday morning include concrete, wood, alcohol and alcohol-based industrial chemicals, a spokesperson for Lithuanian customs said. Russia warned Lithuania and the European Union on Friday that it could adopt "harsh measures" against them if the transit of some goods to and from Kaliningrad did not resume "within the coming days".  On Monday, the Kaliningrad regional governor proposed a total ban on overland…
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Lithuania bans flavoured e-cigarettes

Lithuania bans flavoured e-cigarettes

A new law has just come into force in Lithuania where flavoured electronic cigarettes will no longer be available in the country The new ban aims to tackle the rise in smoking among teenagers and children. “The use of [electronic] cigarettes among teenagers aged 15 to 16 is one of the highest in Europe, second only to Monaco,” said Gražina Belian, interim head of the Department for Drug, Tobacco and Alcohol Control. In Lithuania, 31 percent of schoolchildren have used electronic cigarettes in the last month, she added. The law banning flavoured electronic cigarettes was passed earlier this year. Via…
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UPDATED: Lithuania: We’re ready if Russia cuts us out of common power grid over Kaliningrad disruptions

UPDATED: Lithuania: We’re ready if Russia cuts us out of common power grid over Kaliningrad disruptions

VILNIUS, June 22 (Reuters) - Lithuania will be prepared if Russia disconnects it from the regional power grid in retaliation for blocking rail shipments of some Russian goods to Moscow's Kaliningrad exclave, but no military confrontation is expected, its president told Reuters. He spoke after the Kremlin warned Lithuania on Tuesday that Moscow would respond to the ban on the transit of goods sanctioned by the EU to Kaliningrad in such a way that citizens of the Baltic state would feel the pain.  With relations between Moscow and the West at a half-century low over Russia's invasion of Ukraine, Lithuania banned the…
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Baltic tensions rise as Estonia protests to Russia over airspace violation

Baltic tensions rise as Estonia protests to Russia over airspace violation

 (Reuters) - Estonia summoned the Russian ambassador on Tuesday to protest an "extremely serious" violation of its airspace by a Russian helicopter, the second time in less than two weeks that Tallinn has reprimanded Moscow's envoy. It also expressed solidarity with fellow Baltic nation Lithuania, which Moscow says will be punished for banning the transit of some goods to the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad. The Estonian foreign ministry said the helicopter had flown over a point in the south-east without permission on June 18. "Estonia considers this an extremely serious and regrettable incident that undoubtedly causes additional tensions and is…
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Moscow fumes over EU blockade of Baltic outpost

Moscow fumes over EU blockade of Baltic outpost

Russia summoned the European Union's ambassador in Moscow on Tuesday, fuming over a rail blockade that has halted shipments of many basic goods to a Russian outpost on the Baltic Sea, the latest stand-off over sanctions imposed over the war in Ukraine. On the ground in eastern Ukraine, Russia's separatist proxies said they were advancing towards Kyiv's main battlefield bastion. A Ukrainian official described a lull in fighting there as the "calm before the storm". The latest diplomatic crisis is over the Kaliningrad enclave, a port and surrounding countryside on the Baltic Sea that is home to nearly a million Russians,…
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Kaliningrad residents regret Lithuania’s ban on transit to Russian enclave

Kaliningrad residents regret Lithuania’s ban on transit to Russian enclave

Kaliningrad region Residents sandwiched between EU and NATO members Poland and Lithuania, expressed fear and regret over Lithuania's transit ban announced on Monday. "Construction works will stop. Development of roads. It's all only going to get worse. I think many people will lose their jobs, because there is no other option," said one Kaliningrad resident, who refuse to give his name to Reuters, but said that he already has plans to leave the region because of strengthening European sanctions.  Urging citizens not to resort to panic buying, representative of Kaliningrad region Government Dmitry Lyskov said to Reuters that two vessels were already…
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UPDATED: Russia warns NATO-member Lithuania over Kaliningrad transit

UPDATED: Russia warns NATO-member Lithuania over Kaliningrad transit

LONDON, June 20 (Reuters) - Russia warned NATO member Lithuania on Monday that unless the transit of goods to Russia's Kaliningrad exclave on the Baltic Sea was swiftly restored then Moscow would take undisclosed measures to defend its national interests. With east-west relations at a half-century low over Russia's Feb. 24 invasion of Ukraine, Vilnius banned the transit of goods sanctioned by the European Union through Lithuanian territory to and from the exclave, citing EU sanction rules. Russia's foreign ministry summoned Lithuania's top envoy in Moscow to deliver a protest while the Kremlin said the situation was beyond serious. "The situation is…
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Latvia wants more NATO troops, fed up of “paying for lunch for the others”

Latvia wants more NATO troops, fed up of “paying for lunch for the others”

BRUSSELS, June 16 (Reuters) - Latvia on Thursday made a last pitch for the deployment of more NATO troops in the Baltics, two weeks before NATO leaders are set to decide the future military line-up on the alliance's eastern flank in response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Latvian Defence Minister Artis Pabriks called for larger forces in the Baltic states and said that any sign of weakness - be it in Ukraine or on NATO territory - would encourage Russia. "Ukraine must win, it's very simple, and Russia must lose, there is no other way out of this," he told reporters as…
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Lithuania parliament urges criminal prosecution of Russian leadership

Lithuania parliament urges criminal prosecution of Russian leadership

VILNIUS, June 16 (Reuters) - The Lithuanian parliament on Thursday called for the criminal prosecution of Russia's leadership for its invasion of Ukraine and what it said is the wide-scale forced deportation of Ukrainians to Russian territory. At least a million Ukrainians were deported to Russia and Russian-controlled territories, including 200,000 children, the parliament said in a motion that was passed unanimously. Moscow calls its nearly three-month-old invasion a "special military operation" to rid Ukraine of fascists, an assertion Kyiv and its Western allies say is a baseless pretext for an unprovoked war. "Justice will only be achieved through the…
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Estonia PM set to regain majority in parliament

Estonia PM set to regain majority in parliament

VILNIUS, June 11 (Reuters) - Estonian conservative opposition party Isamaa said on Saturday it would seek to join the Baltic country's government, putting Prime Minister Kaja Kallas and her liberal Reform Party on track to regain a parliamentary majority. Kallas last week removed her junior coalition partner, the Centre Party, after it had sided with a far-right group in parliament to vote down government reform of primary education.  (Reporting by Andrius Sytas in Vilnius; Editing by David Clarke)
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Sweden, Finland NATO membership would increase Baltic security – Estonia

Sweden, Finland NATO membership would increase Baltic security – Estonia

BERLIN, May 16 (Reuters) - Sweden and Finland joining NATO would increase the security of the Baltic region, Estonian Foreign Minister Eva-Maria Liimets said. "When we see that in our neighbourhood also other democratic countries belong to NATO, it would mean that we could have broader joint exercises and also ... more defence cooperation," Liimets told Reuters in Berlin where she joined a meeting with other NATO counterparts on Saturday. Liimets said she hoped Sweden, Finland and Turkey would overcome differences on the Nordic states joining the alliance, adding that the Berlin meeting atmosphere was very supportive.  "We have seen some differences, but we…
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NATO chief says alliance will increase presence in Baltic sea if Sweden applies

NATO chief says alliance will increase presence in Baltic sea if Sweden applies

NATO will increase it's presence around Sweden's borders and in the Baltic sea while a potential application to join the alliance is processed, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg told Swedish public broadcaster SVT. Sweden and neighbouring Finland have remained outside the alliance but Russia's annexation of Crimea in 2014 and its invasion of Ukraine have led the countries to rethink their security policies, with NATO membership looking increasingly likely. Both countries are seeking military protection assurances during an application process, which could take up to a year to be approved by all NATO's members. "I am convinced that we will find…
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Lithuania’s president calls for more NATO troops

Lithuania’s president calls for more NATO troops

VILNIUS, April 22 (Reuters) - NATO should increase its deployment of troops in Lithuania and elsewhere on Europe's eastern flank following Russia's invasion of Ukraine, Lithuania's president told Germany's foreign minister during a meeting in Vilnius on Friday. NATO's Enhanced Forward Presence Battalion should be transformed into "at least" the size of a brigade, while air defences should be improved, President Gitanas Nauseda said in a statement. He also called for a reinforcement of the Baltics' only overland connection to the rest of the European Union, a narrow strip of land between Belarus and Russia's Kaliningrad enclave known as the…
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Estonia calls for EU sanctions on Russia oil and gas transport

Estonia calls for EU sanctions on Russia oil and gas transport

TALLINN, April 21 (Reuters) - The European Union should impose trade sanctions on the transport of Russian oil and gas, Estonia's foreign minister said on Thursday. "The war against Ukraine must become so costly for Russia that it would stop the war," Eva-Maria Liimets told a joint news conference with Germany's foreign minister. "Estonia feels that sixth (sanctions) package also must contain sanctions which concern energy carriers, both gas and oil," Liimets said. (Reporting by Alexander Ratz in Tallinn and Andrius Sytas in Vilnius, editing by Terje Solsvik) Photo - Estonia's foreign minister Eva-Maria Liimets
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Lithuania bans using letter ‘Z’ in protest over Russia’s war in Ukraine

Lithuania bans using letter ‘Z’ in protest over Russia’s war in Ukraine

Lithuania's parliament on Tuesday voted to ban public displays of the letter "Z", the black and orange ribbon of St George, and other symbols seen as expressing support for Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Russian military vehicles in Ukraine are prominently marked with the letter "Z", and it has started appearing on social media and on clothing elsewhere in support of the war. Meanwhile the ribbon of St George, first introduced as an honour by Catherine the Great, has gained significance in the Russian-speaking world since separatists in eastern Ukraine adopted it as a symbol of their support for Russia in…
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Lithuania says Russia already has nuclear weapons in the Baltic region

Lithuania says Russia already has nuclear weapons in the Baltic region

Russia already has nuclear weapons in the Baltic region, Lithuanian Defence Minister Arvydas Anusauskas said. One of Russian President Vladimir Putin's closest allies warned NATO on Thursday that if Sweden and Finland joined the U.S.-led military alliance then Russia would have to bolster its defences in the region, including by deploying nuclear weapons. Anusauskas told Lithuania's BNS wire that nuclear weapons have been deployed in Russia's Kaliningrad exclave on the Baltic Sea since before the current crisis. "The current Russian threats look quite strange, when we know that, even without the present security situation, they keep the weapon 100 km…
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Lithuania wants NATO to expand Baltic battalions into brigades

Lithuania wants NATO to expand Baltic battalions into brigades

Lithuania wants the NATO battalions in the Baltic countries to be expanded into brigades, the country's defence ministry said on Monday. A brigade consists of several battalions of troops. Lithuania and other Baltic states have been consistently calling for more troops in their region and the whole eastern NATO flank, since Russia invaded Ukraine on Feb. 24. "Lithuania, together with other countries on the eastern flank of NATO, is seeking to strengthen the battle groups of the NATO Enhanced Forward Presence into forward presence brigades," Defence Minister Arvydas Anusauskas was quoted as saying. Anusauskas, who did not state the expected size of…
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Photo Story: Snow in Riga, Latvia

Photo Story: Snow in Riga, Latvia

People walk at snowy park in Riga, Latvia, on Wednesday 06 April 2022. According to the data of the Latvian Environment, Geology and Meteorology Center, seven centimetres of snow was recorded on 06 April morning in Riga after most of Latvia was affected by overnight snowfall. Via EPA-EFE/TOMS KALNINS
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Lithuanian MPs want to outlaw Russian military Z symbol

Lithuanian MPs want to outlaw Russian military Z symbol

Two Lithuanian MPs have called on the country to ban displays of the Russian military 'Z' symbol following its invasion of Ukraine. Lawmakers are debating amendments to outlaw the black and orange Georgian ribbon and the ‘Z’ symbol used to mark Russian military vehicles in Ukraine or show support for the invasion. Anyone who displays or distributes either symbol at meetings or mass events could be fined up to €500 under the proposal. The proposals were tabled by Freedom Party MP Monika Ošmianskienė and Social Democrat lawmaker Linas Jonauskas. Ošmianskienė has said that she wants the 'Z' to be outlawed…
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Baltic nations expel ten Russian diplomats

Baltic nations expel ten Russian diplomats

VILNIUS, March 18 (Reuters) - Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania have expelled a total of ten Russian diplomats, the foreign ministries of the three Baltic countries said on Friday. Lithuania expelled four diplomats while Latvia and Estonia each expelled three. The diplomats were expelled in a coordinated move "in connection with activities that are contrary to their diplomatic status and taking into account ongoing Russian aggression in Ukraine," Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics tweeted. https://twitter.com/edgarsrinkevics/status/1504790079230914602 Estonia's foreign ministry said it had expelled diplomats because they "directly and actively undermined Estonia's security and spread propaganda justifying Russia's military action," its foreign ministry said in…
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Lithuania’s Prime Minister joins paramilitary volunteer force

Lithuania’s Prime Minister joins paramilitary volunteer force

VILNIUS (Reuters) - Lithuanian Prime Minister Ingrida Simonyte was sworn in on Friday as a member of the Riflemen’s Union, a paramilitary volunteer force that supports the police and the army and has seen a surge in applications since Russia invaded Ukraine. Over 2,000 applications to join the force have been received since the conflict began, bringing total numbers to 12,000, about a third of them women, the Union said. Members of the union receive limited military training within their units and volunteer to help the police or the military as needed in certain functions. Simonyte was one of several…
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Estonian PM warns hard times lie ahead but ‘freedom is priceless’

Estonian PM warns hard times lie ahead but ‘freedom is priceless’

European leaders have to be "honest" with their citizens about the negative effects that EU sanctions against Russia might bring upon people's daily life, Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas said in an interview with Euronews, warning that "hard times lie ahead." "One could say that gas might be expensive, but freedom is priceless," the prime minister said. "I'm coming from a country where we didn't have freedom. I was born in Soviet Union. I know very well what it means. It is said that you understand the value of freedom [until] it's taken from you," she added. "It's going to…
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UPDATED: Lithuania tightens state of emergency, limits free speech

UPDATED: Lithuania tightens state of emergency, limits free speech

VILNIUS, March 10 (Reuters) - Lithuania imposed a stricter state of emergency on Thursday in response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine, limiting rights to free expression and peaceful assembly, in what critics said were the toughest constraints on personal freedom since Soviet times. The government in Lithuania, a NATO and EU member that was once part of the Soviet Union, declared a state of emergency on Feb. 24 hours after Russia invaded Ukraine, fearing Moscow could threaten Lithuania and deploying the army along its borders with Russia and Belarus. The new legislation, which passed parliament with 71 votes in favour out of…
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Moral duty to give Ukraine a membership perspective – Estonian PM

Moral duty to give Ukraine a membership perspective – Estonian PM

The European Union has a moral duty to give Ukraine a membership perspective, Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas told the European Parliament this morning. She said that Ukraine was not fighting for itself but also for Europe. Addressing the plenary session in Strasbourg, Kallas directed parts of her address to Russian citizens, with a message that EU sanctions "are not against you, but are intended against Vladimir Putin". Kallas admitted that sanctions will hurt ordinary Russians too - as they are hurting Europeans. She appealed for governments to mobilise all their technological potential to win the war for truth. "Our…
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Lithuania asks International Criminal Court to investigate war crimes in Ukraine

Lithuania asks International Criminal Court to investigate war crimes in Ukraine

VILNIUS, Feb 28 (Reuters) - Lithuania's government announced on Monday it will ask prosecutors at the International Criminal Court to investigate "war crimes and crimes against humanity in Ukraine". "There is new material coming in every day, but we have enough of it by now to file the request," Lithuanian Prime Minister Ingrida Simonyte said in a televised cabinet meeting. (Reporting by Andrius Sytas, writing by Terje Solsvik, editing by Gwladys Fouche)
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Latvia allows its citizens to fight in Ukraine

Latvia allows its citizens to fight in Ukraine

VILNIUS, Feb 28 (Reuters) - Latvia's parliament voted unanimously on Monday to allow its nationals to fight in Ukraine if willing, the parliament said in a statement. "Our citizens who want to support Ukraine and volunteer to serve there to defend Ukraine's independence and our common security must be able to do so," said Juris Rancanis, chairman of the parliamentary defence, home affairs and corruption prevention commission, which drafted the law. (Reporting by Andrius Sytas, writing by Terje Solsvik, editing by Gwladys Fouche) Photo - Territorial Defense fighters stand on a checkpoint in Kiev, Ukraine. EPA-EFE/MIKHAIL PALINCHAK
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In policy shift, Finland approves field guns export by Estonia to Ukraine

In policy shift, Finland approves field guns export by Estonia to Ukraine

HELSINKI, Feb 27 (Reuters) - Finland is to allow neighbouring Estonia to export to Ukraine Soviet-origin howitzer field guns, which were previously sold to Estonia by Finland but could not legally be sold onwards, the Finnish government said on Sunday. The decision came as a policy shift from Finland, which is not a NATO member, shares a long border with Russia and has previously maintained a policy of not allowing weapon exports to war zones. Finland will also directly donate 2,000 bulletproof vests, 2,000 helmets and two first aid units to Ukraine, Defence Minister Antti Kaikkonen told reporters on Sunday after a…
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U.S. troops in Latvia in warning to Putin

U.S. troops in Latvia in warning to Putin

ADAZI MILITARY BASE, Latvia - The presence of U.S. and other NATO troops in Latvia sends a message to Vladimir Putin that Russia should stay away, Latvian Defence Minister Artis Pabriks said as he greeted a small deployment of U.S. soldiers that arrived on Friday. The group of some forty U.S. service members arrived from Italy early on Thursday - before hostilities in Ukraine began. The deployment is expected to grow to more than 300 soldiers. "We are a small country. We are ready to do whatever is needed to defend ourselves. We are not afraid to die for that.…
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Baltic nations plan to close airspace to Russian planes

Baltic nations plan to close airspace to Russian planes

VILNIUS, Feb 26 (Reuters) - The Baltic nations of Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania have agreed in principle to close their airspace to Russian aircraft, Lithuanian Transport Minister Marius Skuodis said on Saturday. "Since this morning we've been preparing documents for our governments to vote on. Our plan is to take the step simultaneously," Skuodis wrote on Facebook.  Latvian airline airBaltic has decided to stop all flights to Russia until March 26 due to increased risk amid Russia's invasion to Ukraine, the carrier said on Saturday. "The safety and security of our passengers and employees is the main priority of airBaltic," it added.…
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Poland and Lithuania say Ukraine deserves EU candidate status due to ‘current security challenges’

Poland and Lithuania say Ukraine deserves EU candidate status due to ‘current security challenges’

VILNIUS (Reuters) - Ukraine deserves European Union candidate status, and Poland and Lithuania will support it in this goal, the presidents of the two countries said in a joint declaration with the Ukrainian president on Wednesday. "We emphasize that, given the significant progress in the implementation of the Association Agreement and internal reforms, as well as the current security challenges, Ukraine deserves EU candidate status and Lithuania and Poland will support Ukraine in achieving this goal," said the declaration, signed in Kyiv by Ukraine's President Volodymyr Zelenskiy, Polish President Andrzej Duda and Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda. The joint declaration calls…
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Estonia appeals for American fighter jets to the Baltics to defend its airspace

Estonia appeals for American fighter jets to the Baltics to defend its airspace

Estonia has asked the United States to send fighter jets to the Baltic states to defend their skies, amid worries that Russia could be poised for an attack on Ukraine that would lead to an confrontation with the Baltic region, the country's defence minister said. "There is a possibility that, if Ukraine, falls down, the Baltic states would be next," Estonian minister Kalle Laanet told Reuters in an interview after meeting with U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin in the Lithuanian capital Vilnius. The three Baltic States of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, were once ruled from Moscow but are now part…
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