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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Ivanov Softens Rhetoric on Kaliningrad

Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov said Monday that Moscow would not build up its forces in Kaliningrad as the Baltic states prepare to join NATO but insisted that keeping existing forces combat ready is a top priority.

During a visit to a military base in Kaliningrad on Monday, he said, "We are not going to respond to this by building up our forces in the Kaliningrad region and saber-rattling," Interfax and Itar-Tass reported.

He also expressed concern that servicemen based in Kaliningrad will likely need visas to travel to the rest of Russia when neighbors Poland and Lithuania join the European Union in 2004.

Meanwhile, French Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin said Monday that France's support for Moscow in the visa dispute did not mean Paris had broken ranks with its European partners. He told the daily Le Monde that President Jacques Chirac's backing during talks with President Vladimir Putin this month indicated his concern to find a solution.

(AP, Reuters)