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US troops land in Latvia amid Ukraine tensions

RIGA/MOSCOW--Latvia on Friday welcomed American troops on its soil, part of a U.S. force of 600 sent to the region to reassure the Baltic states amid concern over Russia's actions in Ukraine.

“Today is a special day because this morning I met the heads of the armed forces at the Adazi military base and greeted the U.S. military unit that arrived this morning for military training,” Latvian Prime Minister Laimdota Straujuma told reporters.

Some 150 troops from the 173rd Airborne Brigade will be based at the Adazi base near capital Riga until at least the end of the year, according to the Latvian defence ministry.

Another company of soldiers arrived in Poland on Wednesday, while around 150 others are each expected in Lithuania on Saturday and Estonia early next week.

Washington on Tuesday said it was sending the 600 troops to the region to increase its presence in the region and reassure its NATO allies and partners.

Standard and Poor's on Friday cut Russia's credit rating a notch to BBB- and kept its outlook negative, citing a risk of increased capital flight amid the Ukraine crisis.

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