Latvia urged Greece to stick to its European allies as Athens continued to signal it could tilt towards Russia instead, amid tense negotiations with the EU and IMF over a bailout package.

Latvian foreign minister Edgars Rinkēvičs told IBTimes UK he hoped the recently elected leftist Greek government led by Alexis Tsipras would continue putting Europe's common security and peace first, not vetoing the rollover of EU sanctions against the Kremlin.

"I'd like to believe that I'm not mistaken in my feeling that the Greek government is quite aware that the EU ability to maintain its unity and resolution is a key prerequisite to counter Russia's threats to the European security and peace," he said. "And apparently there is certain price, which all of us have unfortunately to pay for that."

Last month, the EU agreed to delay to June a vote on the prolongation of sanctions imposed against Russia's meddling in Ukraine, raising fears the Kremlin was being successful in sowing division among the 27 member states.

Among those opposing the new round of measures that need the unanimous consent of EU leaders to be put in place was Athens, which is on the verge of running out of money as loan talks with its Eurozone partners to prevent Greek bankruptcy remain deadlocked.

Tsipras met Vladimir Putin last week in Moscow, where the two leaders spoke about enhancing economic ties, with the Russian President saying his government could look at ways to extend loans to Greece, through joint investment projects.

In what seemed a follow up meeting, this week Greek officials met Russia's natural gas giant Gazprom's chairman Alexei Miller, fuelling speculation that a possible multibillion pipeline deal was being negotiated.

At the same time EU antitrust regulators were moving to charge Gazprom with abusing its dominant position in Eastern Europe.

"The EU and NATO should remain united in their response to Russia's aggressive behaviour," Rinkēvičs warned.

Military activity

In a wide-ranging interview the minister told IBTimes UK Latvia was experiencing first-hand Kremlin's attempts to destabilise the Baltic states after Ukraine.

"We have observed considerably increased Russian military activity along our borders. Russian planes and military ships are approaching our territory more often than before," he said, adding that also the tones of Russia's rhetoric against Latvia had grown shrill. "There have been several media reports on 'Latvian spies' caught in Russia."

Rinkēvičs, who recently angered the Kremlin comparing Putin's Russia to Nazi Germany on Twitter, defended Latvia's record on integration of Russians living there.

The country of two million people is home to several hundred thousand ethnic Russian who are known as non-citizens because they have not undertaken or passed a citizenship exam requiring knowledge of Latvian and thus do not have voting rights.

"Due to a successful integration policy the number of non-citizens has dropped to 262,622 (12%) in January 2015 compared to approximately 730,000 (29%) in 1995, when the naturalization process began," Rinkēvičs stressed.

Their peculiar situation is nevertheless a hotbed for potential troubles at a time when Moscow is attempting to ramp up ethnic tensions, engaging the Baltic states in an information war for the loyalty of their Russian minorities.

The Kremlin claims it is its moral duty to protect Russian ethics that are discriminated against in other countries, a rhetoric that has been used to justify the annexation of Crimea and backing of pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine.

Russian media was swift in seizing a recommendation by Riga's language regulator that Latvian should be used in work communications as evidence of such ongoing discrimination.

Rinkēvičs said the appeal had a mere recommendatory nature, although he maintained that a language policy was necessary in the country to prevent Latvian from disappearing.

"It would not be correct to divide our society in two language groups. Again, this is how the Kremlin's propaganda is trying to picture it," the minister said. "Latvia's society is and has always been multicultural – people from more than 150 ethnic groups live here together in harmony."