How Do The Baltic States Feel About Russia Right Now?

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Authored by Polina Tikhonova

The Defense Secretary Michael Fallon has recently warned the NATO members that the Baltic states could be next to face Russian aggression. “I’m worried about Putin. I’m worried about his pressure on the Baltics, the way he is testing NATO,” he told the Times and the Telegraph while on a flight to Sierra Leone.

Following Vladimir Putin’s seizure of the Crimea and the intense fighting in eastern Ukraine, Fallon expressed his concern that Putin could use the same scenario in the Baltics. He believes that there is a “real and present danger” in Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia.

Fallon also called for NATO states to be prepared for aggression from Russia “in whatever form it takes.” He reminded of the frequent flights of Russian military aircraft near the borders of NATO states and the arrest of Estonian security officer Eston Kohver, who was abducted at gunpoint in September and taken to Russia where he was accused of spying.

Then in October, a foreign submarine believed to be Russian was spotted off the coast of Sweden, stirring up a major naval operation to try to locate it. The submarine was not located, but after that event, Estonian authorities decided to pay more attention to the area near Saaremaa and Hiiumaa and to look out for possible threats. NATO states have also strengthened the monitoring of the airspace over Scandinavia and the Baltic countries.

NATO will not be able to guard the Alliance from Russia

Ukrainian philosopher and a political expert Sergey Datsyuk believes NATO will not be able to guard the Alliance’s members from Russian aggression.

“Russia has clearly outlined its goals. Russia won’t put up with the current geopolitical situation in the world, and therefore wants to turn it to its own benefit. Russia wants to regain its control at least over post-Soviet states, and ideally over the entire Eastern Europe. Eastern Europe is not able to make a stand today. We still haven’t witnessed a situation where one of the NATO members is being occupied and the Alliance’s response to that. In order to respond to an aggression, NATO has to deploy its weaponry by air and sea,” Mr. Datsyuk told ValueWalk.

How Do The Baltic States Feel About Russia Right Now?

“This is a difficult situation and it’s not going to resolve quickly. NATO is now in the troubled state, because if Vladimir Putin gets to the Baltics first, then NATO won’t have anything to confront him with. If Russia wants to take the Baltic states, it will, and NATO will not be able to do anything about it. Yes, there will be a scandal, there will be threats toward Putin, but no one will be able to do anything about it. The next step will be a nuclear attack. And as a result there will be an unwanted nuclear war. It will happen just the way it happened with Crimea: everybody will be outraged, but they won’t do anything about it,” he said.

Besides, commenting on some of the recent speeches of the President of Russia, Datsyuk pointed out that Putin lives in his own reality, which has nothing to do with the real world. Mr. Datsyuk concludes that Putin’s recent revenge-seeking statements can only mean that the Donbass conflict will be continued.

Russian President Vladimir Putin compared to Hitler and Stalin

In the summer of 2014, the President of Lithuania, Dalia Grybauskaite, compared the tactics of Russian President Vladimir Putin to those employed by Joseph Stalin and Adolf Hitler. “[Putin] uses nationality as a pretext to conquer territory with military means. That’s exactly what Stalin and Hitler did. Such comparisons are spot on,” she told the German news magazine Focus.

According to her, Russia wanted to maintain its influence in states of the former Soviet Union and particularly wanted to keep the Baltic states dependent on it economically and in terms of energy policy. Meanwhile, a deployment of U.S. troops in Poland and the Baltic states has been extended through 2015.

“There are going to be U.S. Army forces here in Lithuania as well as Estonia and Latvia and Poland for as long as it’s required to deter Russian aggression,” the top U.S. commander for Europe, Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges, told reporters at the Pentagon via teleconference.

In April 2014, approximately 600 infantry troops were deployed to Poland and the Baltic states to help reassure European allies who feel threatened by Russian aggression. The Baltic states and Poland had repeatedly expressed the wish that U.S. troops be deployed in the region on a regular basis. The U.S. said it would conduct more military exercises with the Baltic states but does not plan to place a permanent contingent in the region.

Reasons why Baltic states fear Russia

The Baltic states have sensible reasons to fear Russia. For instance, the Baltic states are among the five states that Russians consider most hostile. What’s interesting is that Pavel S., a Lithuanian citizen, told ValueWalk that from the very beginning of the Ukrainian-Russian conflict, the majority of Lithuanians have believed that if Russia defeats Ukraine, Lithuania would be the next due to its support of Kiev’s regime.

“Every Ukrainian military defeat feels like our own,” says Pavel, expressing what many Lithuanian authorities and citizens feel about the Ukrainian-Russian conflict.

Some experts believe that today’s relations between NATO and the Baltic states are stronger than ever. From the beginning of the Ukrainian-Russian conflict, the airspace over the Baltic states has been monitored by ten NATO fighter jets (before the conflict it was only four).

However, the situation is a little bit different with Latvia, where Russians make up around a third of the population. Besides, Russian business presents itself in pretty much every sector of Latvian economy: financial, transit, manufacturing etc. In addition to that, the majority of investors note that there is an existing economic dependence on Russia.

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About the Author

Polina Tikhonova
Polina Tikhonova is a writer, journalist and a certified translator. Over the past 7 years, she has worked for a wide variety of top European, American, Russian, and Ukrainian media outlets. Polina holds a Master's Degree in English Philology from the University of Oxford and a Bachelor's Degree in Journalism from the Saint Petersburg State University. Her articles and news reports have been published by many newspapers, magazines, journals, blogs and online media sources across the globe. Polina is fluent in English, German, Ukrainian and Russian.

4 Comments on "How Do The Baltic States Feel About Russia Right Now?"

  1. concerned_citizen | Mar 24, 2015, 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |

    Russians will never change. My great grandfather escaped Lithuanian 1910 when they came to conscript men into the Russian army.

  2. Why is it always that the U.S. is doing this and the U.S. is doing that? Where is Europe? Where are the German, British, Dutch, Italian, Belgian, and Austrian fighter jets patrolling the skies over Poland and the Batlics? Not to mention the fighter jets from countries with far more at stake here: Hungary, Romania, Czeck Republic, Bulgaria, and Slovakia. Where are the joint exercises between militaries of the former eastern block countries? Europeans’ Achilles heel is their lax attitude toward their own defense and their over reliance on American willingness and ability to do their job for them. Europe had better learn quickly how to combine their military might or what they don’t have to fear will bite them in their rear ends.

  3. It’s only smart to do something about present defense situations in the Baltic States with Putin running amock. Still and all, some of these articles, including statesmen from the UK and US shooting off their mouths to media, are fear-mongreling and unnecessary. Offer your support but stop inducing fear in the general public.

  4. The Russians are coming! The Russians are coming! Everyone, very quickly now, get
    out your check books and start purchasing bigger, better and more expensive weapons.
    Don’t forget to duck and cover.

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