Latvian Foreign Affairs Minister Edgars Rinkēvičs has warned a lot of Russian missiles are “already targeting” Sweden and Finland as the two Baltic states are welcomed into the NATO military alliance. Speaking from the NATO summit in Madrid, Mr Rinkēvičs discussed the threat posed by missiles stationed in Russia’s Kaliningrad enclave between Poland and Lithuania.
Mr Rinkēvičs told BBC News: “There are already those missiles in Kaliningrad obviously, it is nothing new.
“We also believe that there are already quite a lot of missiles targetting not only the Baltic states, not only Poland but also Sweden and Finland.
“From our perspective, the most historic achievement of this summit is of course the invitation to Finland and Sweden to join.
“Because that actually increases our security, makes the Baltic sea almost a NATO sea and to some extent really increases our security beyond those decisions of first deployment.”
At a summit on Wednesday dominated by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the geopolitical upheaval it has caused, NATO invited Sweden and Finland to join and pledged a seven-fold increase from 2023 in combat forces on high alert along its eastern flank.
In reaction, President Vladimir Putin said Russia would respond in kind if NATO set up infrastructure in Finland and Sweden after they join the U.S.-led military alliance.
Putin was quoted by Russian news agencies as saying he could not rule out that tensions would emerge in Moscow’s relations with Helsinki and Stockholm over their joining NATO.
US President Joe Biden announced more land, sea and air force deployments across Europe from Spain in the west to Romania and Poland bordering Ukraine.
As the 30 national NATO leaders were meeting in Madrid, Russian forces intensified attacks in Ukraine, including missile strikes and shelling on the southern Mykolaiv region close to front lines and the Black Sea.
The mayor of Mykolaiv city said a Russian missile had killed at least five people in a residential building there, while Moscow said its forces had hit what it called a training base for foreign mercenaries in the region.
There was relentless fighting around the hilltop city of Lysychansk, which Russian forces are trying to encircle as they try to capture the industrialised eastern Donbas region on behalf of separatist proxies.
Donbas comprises Donetsk and Luhansk provinces.