Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics said that Russian nuclear weapon threats and an unwillingness to keep to the terms of the Ukraine ceasefire have driven relations between the country and the West to their lowest level since the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962.
“I think that what we are witnessing is unprecedented since 1962,” Rinkevic told Reuters in Sydney, Australia.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said this week that the country will add at least 40 new intercontinental ballistic missiles to its arsenal. Putin also said Russia has the right to station nuclear warheads on the annexed Crimea peninsular.
Putin's words have drawn a number of reactions from top Western and NATO officials, including NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg, who called the news “nuclear sabre-rattling.”
Rinkevics said Moscow's nuclear rhetoric shows that the region needs more NATO protection. The US is currently weighing up a plan to store heavy weapons in the Baltic nations and Eastern Europe, although Estonia's share would be relatively small – enough tanks for 150 troops.
Editor: J.M. Laats