00:36 GMT +309 December 2019
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    U.S. Army snipers assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, 2nd Cavalry Regiment, and Latvian land forces snipers, pull perimeter security during a combined live-fire exercise with the Latvian land forces, part of Operation Atlantic Resolve in Adazi training area, Latvia, March 6, 2015

    Get Off My Lawn: Latvian Man Outraged by Unannounced NATO Drills in His Backyard

    CC BY 2.0 / Program Executive Office Soldier / U.S. Army snipers
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    A column of NATO military equipment drove straight into a chunk of private property in rural Latvia and started firing, frightening the owner and leaving him indignant over the fact that the alliance did not ask his permission or even inform him of their plans.

    In recent weeks and months, NATO troops have been busy staging military drills in the Baltic states, their efforts part of a military buildup in Eastern Europe unseen since the collapse of the Soviet Union.

    The exercises, featuring various code names and varying configurations of NATO member troops, armor, air and naval power, haven't been all smooth sailing. Over the last month, an Estonian man chased troops out of his property with a shotgun, another group of NATO soldiers got drunk and started a fight in rural Lithuania, and forces in Estonia ended up smashing their vehicles into ditches, power lines and civilian motorists.

    On Tuesday, an indignant Latvian man posted evidence of another ugly incident involving NATO troops, presumably training in the ongoing BALTOPS-2017 exercises. In an angry post on his Facebook page, Kristaps Ozlins, the owner of a piece of land in rural Latvia, described his shock when NATO troops and military equipment suddenly showed up on his territory uninvited and started shooting.

    Ozlins' post was accompanied by two videos, the first showing NATO troops speeding through his property. The second video shows him hiding in his house as troops start live fire exercises right outside his window.

    The videos are accompanied by an appeal, which reads: "Dear people, what would you say if, without any warning, a column of military hardware showed up on your land? And after a while started a shootout? Is this war? No, this is NATO training! That's what I call a stressful Monday! Can it really be the case that it's not necessary to agree such things with landowners?"

    The fact that Ozlins hid in his house and waited out the end of the unannounced exercises is probably a good thing. The 56-year-old Estonian man who chased NATO troops out of his property with a shotgun has been criminally charged, and could receive a fine, or up to five years' prison time.


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