NEWSWATCH: “NATO, Russia to Discuss Increased Baltic Tensions. Russia promises troop buildup in response to 4,000-strong Western force” – Wall Street Journal
Russian officials pushed a new air-safety initiative for the Baltic Sea in a meeting with [NATO] ambassadors … as they continued to criticize [NATO’s] planned buildup in the region. … [a proposal that] would require all planes flying in the Baltic Sea region to operate with their transponders turned on … … allied officials welcomed [the proposal] saying it could open up the kind of military-to-military talks that NATO officials have been pressing Moscow to embrace.
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At the end of June, Russia’s Defense Ministry announced that it had fired the commander of the Baltic Fleet, the fleet’s chief of staff, and several other officers after an inspection revealed ‘serious shortcomings’ … including … deficiencies in combat training and distortions in reports. A lawmaker later said 36 officers in total had been fired. * * * The U.S. believes the ousters are due to disappointment by Moscow in the state of the Baltic Fleet’s combat readiness, said a U.S. official. Allied officials said they believe the Russian moves … were likely in response to the U.S. and NATO buildup of forces in the Baltic Sea.