The Russian Foreign Ministry’s chief spokesman Grigory Karasin told a Moscow briefing that the ministry has complained to the West European Union’s Permanent Council chairman, Luis Casanova of Spain, over the WEU Parliamentary Assembly’s recommendation to form a standing Baltic naval force. Russia regards the proposal as "perplexing" and "clearly anti-Russian," Casanova was told on his visit to Moscow. Karasin cited Casanova as replying that the recommendation is a "personal opinion of some members" of the Parliamentary Assembly and that the WEU leadership did not support it. (15)
The Assembly adopted earlier this month the recommendation to form under WEU aegis a standing Baltic naval force of German, Danish, Polish, Estonian, Latvian, and Lithuanian ships, to become operational within two years. Spain currently holds the WEU’s rotating presidency. Moscow has recently evidenced hopes of inducing Spanish officials in the EU and NATO to show some understanding for Russian objectives. The Baltic states have for their part been considering the formation of a joint naval squadron of the three countries, with plans focusing on coastal guard and minesweeping units. Sweden and Germany have supplied some small ships and equipment as gifts. On December 22, Estonia launched a coastal guard warship, the first to be built by the country since the restoration of its independence.
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