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Russian warships spotted in Baltic NATO waters, Latvia says

By Doug G. Ware
Russian warships spotted in Baltic NATO waters, Latvia says
Russian President Vladimir Putin meets with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani in Moscow on March 28. Latvia's military said Monday three Russian warships were spotted in the Baltic Sea on Sunday, in NATO waters but out of Latvian territorial waters. File Photo by Sergei Karpukhin/EPA

May 8 (UPI) -- Three Russian warships that were supposed to stay docked near St. Petersburg for a holiday celebration this week have instead turned up in the Baltic Sea, military authorities said Monday.

Latvia's military said the Russian ships -- purported to be the Liven 551, Serpukhov 603 and the Morshansk 824 -- were spotted in the sea on Sunday about a dozen nautical miles off that country's coast. Some reports said the ships got even closer.

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Officials said the ships were spotted by Latvian forces deployed in the sea.

The purpose for the Russian ships' presence was not immediately clear. According to Russian newspaper Kontanka, the vessels had been docked at the Kronshtadt port near St. Petersburg and were supposed to remain there until Russia's Victory Day holiday on Tuesday, which celebrates the Russian end of World War II.

A Russian official told state news agency RIA Novosti the celebration would go ahead without the three warships.

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Kontanka also reported that the Kremlin vessels may have been sent to counter the presence of the USS Carney, an Arleigh Burke-class Navy destroyer with cruise missiles aboard that's presently in the Baltic.

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U.S. naval officials posted a picture online Monday of the Carney crossing seas near Denmark last week, saying the vessel was "conducting a patrol in support of U.S. national security interests in Europe."

In April, a Russian submarine was also detected near Latvian territorial waters.

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