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U.S. 'Crucial' to Latvia as Russian Troops Build on Border: Defense Chief

U.S. support is "crucial" to Latvia as Russia increases its troop numbers on the nations' border, the defense chief of the Baltic State said Monday.
/ Source: NBC News

WIESBADEN, Germany — U.S. support is "crucial" to Latvia amid concerns over an increase in Russian troop activity near its borders, the Baltic nation's defense chief said Monday.

Lt. Gen Raimonds Graube said that "Russian communication warfare and Russian troop build ups" are continuing along the Russia-Latvia border.

"The people of Latvia are scared because of this activity," he said after a meeting with the commander of the U.S. Army in Europe, Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges in Wiesbaden, Germany.

Increased Russian military activity in the Baltic region in recent months has prompted a display of U.S. and NATO deterrence capabilities against any Russian threat to Europe's borders. But Graube stressed that the build-up has been not just over the last month but over the past two years, saying that his forces have identified Russian troops as close as 16 miles away from Latvia’s borders.

Graube's remarks came as Germany's Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier launched an initiative to train journalists from Baltic countries to "increase the media diversity also for Russian speaking television."

Steinmeier said that the initiative's goal isn't to "react to propaganda with counter-propaganda" but instead with "free and independent journalism."

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— Andy Eckardt