World Bulletin / News Desk
Russia's nuclear "sabre-rattling" and refusal to abide by the terms of a ceasefire in Ukraine have dragged East-West relations to their lowest level since the 1962 Cuban missile crisis, Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics said on Thursday.
This week Russia announced it was adding 40 new intercontinental ballistic missiles to its nuclear arsenal, placing further strain on relations between Moscow and the West, already tense over the Ukraine crisis.
Rinkevics, who has a lead role in EU diplomacy, told Reuters in an interview in Sydney that Russian statements about its willingness to use nuclear weapons were alarming.
"I think that what we are witnessing is unprecedented since 1962, since Cuban missile crisis," he said.
The West says it has evidence that Moscow is supporting pro-Russian rebels with troops and weapons in eastern Ukraine, where more than 6,000 people have been killed since April last year.
Rinkevics told that Moscow's nuclear rhetoric demonstrated the need for more NATO troops and equipment in the region, and that the military alliance must "be prepared for all kinds of contingencies."
"It shows that we have to be really prepared to respond as NATO to such kinds of threats through more troops, more military equipment in the Baltic States, in Poland," he said.
On Wednesday, EU governments agreed to extend economic sanctions on Russia until Jan. 31, maintaining Western unity despite the reservations that some EU members openly expressed.
"We cannot say that the Minsk agreement is totally broken, but what we have seen recently is that the level of tension is increasing," Rinkevics said.
"We are in a situation where Minsk agreement can be broken anytime and in that case we are going to see totally different situation, which is not going to be better." (Güncelleme Tarihi: 18 Haziran 2015, 14:59