Ripples of the Ukraine crisis in the Baltics

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Ripples of the Ukraine crisis in the Baltics

By John Ruberry

The effects of Russia’s annex­a­tion of the Crimea are being felt in the Baltic States – Lithua­nia, Latvia, and Esto­nia. The three states were part of Czarist Rus­sia, but they won their inde­pen­dence from the Bol­she­viks after World War I. It was not to last – the tiny nations were seized by the Soviet Union in 1940. My wife, who was born in Latvia, was told that the three nations “requested” to join the USSR by her teachers.

[cap­tion id=“attachment_55123” align=“alignright” width=“240”]Riga, Latvia Riga, Latvia[/caption]

Shortly before the col­lapse of the Evil Empire, the Baltic States regained their independence.

Despite being hit hard by the eco­nomic cri­sis of 2008, the Baltic States are the wealth­i­est of the for­mer Soviet Republics. The demo­c­ra­tic nations are mem­bers of NATO and the Euro­pean Union.

But not all well in what was known in impe­r­ial Rus­sia as “our West.” Thou­sands of Balts were deported to Siberia in the 1940s, Russ­ian speak­ers took their place. It was an essen­tial part of Josef Stalin’s pol­icy of Rus­si­fi­ca­tion – one peo­ple, one lan­guage. Over two decades after the col­lapse of the USSR, eth­nic Rus­sians com­prise roughly one-​quarter the pop­u­la­tion of Latvia and Esto­nia. Lithua­nia has a tiny Russ­ian pop­u­la­tion but it bor­ders the Kalin­ingrad exclave of Russia.

Need­less to say, some peo­ple are ner­vous in the Baltics about the Ukraine cri­sis and Rus­sia. Vaira Vike-​Freiberga, the for­mer pres­i­dent of Latvia, told NPR ear­lier this month, “We have to worry every minute of every day.” Latvia and Lithua­nia sus­pended the broad­casts of the inter­na­tional ser­vice of a Russ­ian government-​owned tele­vi­sion net­work for three months because of what they deemed inflam­ma­tory broadcasts.

An eth­nic Russ­ian mem­ber of the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment from Latvia is under inves­ti­ga­tion by Lat­vian author­i­ties for being a Russ­ian Fed­er­a­tion agent.

I’ve been to Latvia twice. When walk­ing the streets of its cap­i­tal, Riga, one is just a likely to hear Russ­ian spo­ken as Latvian.

The most tense sit­u­a­tion is in Esto­nia. Its third largest city, Narva, sits on the bor­der of the Russ­ian Fed­er­a­tion. Just four per­cent of the res­i­dents are Narva are Eston­ian. The two nations have an unre­solved bor­der dis­pute. Esto­nia was the vic­tim of a 2007 Russ­ian cyber attack.

[cap­tion id=“attachment_55124” align=“alignright” width=“179”]Pro independence rally in Latvia, 1990. Pro inde­pen­dence rally
in Latvia, 1990.[/caption]

To become a cit­i­zen of Esto­nia or Latvia, Rus­sians and their descen­dants who emi­grated there after 1940 have to pass a dif­fi­cult lan­guage test, which is sig­nif­i­cant chal­lenge for the elderly. Rus­sians born there after 1991 can choose cit­i­zen­ship. In Lithua­nia Rus­sians were offered cit­i­zen­ship upon independence.

In response to the Crimea cri­sis, NATO dis­patched some F-​16 jets to Lithua­nia and Pres­i­dent Obama sent Vice Pres­i­dent Joe Biden there. I’m sure the Balts appre­ci­ated the for­mer more than the latter.

But if Vladimir Putin uses the same rea­son­ing – the pro­tec­tion of Rus­sians – to seize Narva as he did with Crimea, will Pres­i­dent Obama and NATO have the stom­ach to view such a move as a vio­la­tion of Arti­cle V of the char­ter of the alliance, “An attack on one is an attack on all?”

Or will Obama sim­ply draw another of his mean­ing­less red lines, as he did in Syria?

Putin has called the col­lapse of the USSR a “geopo­lit­i­cal tragedy.”

But now he has Crimea. Is there a next move?

John Ruberry reg­u­larly blogs at Marathon Pun­dit.

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[olimome­ter id=5]

The time has come to ditch the weekly goal to focus on the monthly fig­ure, that’s where the real action is at.

In order for this to be a viable full-​time busi­ness this blog has to take in enough to make the mortgage/​tax pay­ment for the house (Cur­rently $1210 monthly) and cover the costs of the writ­ers writ­ing here (another $255)

As of now we need $1278 to meet this goal by April 30th.

That comes out 51 peo­ple kick­ing in $25 over the rest of the month or basi­cally three peo­ple a day.

I think the site and the work done here is worth it, if you do too then please con­sider hit­ting DaTip­Jar below .

Nat­u­rally once our monthly goal is made these solic­i­ta­tions will dis­ap­pear till the next month but once we get 61 more sub­scribers at $20 a month the goal will be cov­ered for a full year and this pitch will dis­ap­pear until 2015.

Con­sider the lineup you get for this price, in addi­tion to my own work seven days a week you get John Ruberry (Marathon Pun­dit) and Pat Austin (And so it goes in Shreve­port) on Sun­day Linda Szu­gyi (No one of any import) on Mon­day Tim Imholt on Tues­day, AP Dil­lon (Lady Liberty1885) Thurs­days, Pas­tor George Kelly fri­days, Steve Eggle­ston on Sat­ur­days with Baldilocks (Tue & Sat) and Fausta (Wed & Fri) of (Fausta Blog) twice a week.

If that’s not worth $20 a month I’d like to know what is?

By John Ruberry

The effects of Russia’s annexation of the Crimea are being felt in the Baltic States–Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia. The three states were part of Czarist Russia, but they won their independence from the Bolsheviks after World War I. It was not to last–the tiny nations were seized by the Soviet Union in 1940. My wife, who was born in Latvia, was told that the three nations “requested” to join the USSR by her teachers.

Riga, Latvia
Riga, Latvia

Shortly before the collapse of the Evil Empire, the Baltic States regained their independence.

Despite being hit hard by the economic crisis of 2008, the Baltic States are the wealthiest of the former Soviet Republics. The democratic nations are members of NATO and the European Union.

But not all well in what was known in imperial Russia as “our West.” Thousands of Balts were deported to Siberia in the 1940s, Russian speakers took their place. It was an essential part of Josef Stalin’s policy of Russification–one people, one language. Over two decades after the collapse of the USSR, ethnic Russians comprise roughly one-quarter the population of Latvia and Estonia. Lithuania has a tiny Russian population but it borders the Kaliningrad exclave of Russia.

Needless to say, some people are nervous in the Baltics about the Ukraine crisis and Russia. Vaira Vike-Freiberga, the former president of Latvia, told NPR earlier this month, “We have to worry every minute of every day.” Latvia and Lithuania suspended the broadcasts of the international service of a Russian government-owned television network for three months because of what they deemed inflammatory broadcasts.

An ethnic Russian member of the European Parliament from Latvia is under investigation by Latvian authorities for being a Russian Federation agent.

I’ve been to Latvia twice. When walking the streets of its capital, Riga, one is just a likely to hear Russian spoken as Latvian.

The most tense situation is in Estonia. Its third largest city, Narva, sits on the border of the Russian Federation. Just four percent of the residents are Narva are Estonian. The two nations have an unresolved border dispute. Estonia was the victim of a 2007 Russian cyber attack.

Pro independence rally in Latvia, 1990.
Pro independence rally
in Latvia, 1990.

To become a citizen of Estonia or Latvia, Russians and their descendants who emigrated there after 1940 have to pass a difficult language test, which is significant challenge for the elderly. Russians born there after 1991 can choose citizenship. In Lithuania Russians were offered citizenship upon independence.

In response to the Crimea crisis, NATO dispatched some F-16 jets to Lithuania and President Obama sent Vice President Joe Biden there. I’m sure the Balts appreciated the former more than the latter.

But if Vladimir Putin uses the same reasoning–the protection of Russians–to seize Narva as he did with Crimea, will President Obama and NATO have the stomach to view such a move as a violation of Article V of the charter of the alliance, “An attack on one is an attack on all?”

Or will Obama simply draw another of his meaningless red lines, as he did in Syria?

Putin has called the collapse of the USSR a “geopolitical tragedy.” 

But now he has Crimea. Is there a next move?

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

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Olimometer 2.52

The time has come to ditch the weekly goal to focus on the monthly figure, that’s where the real action is at.

In order for this to be a viable full-time business this blog has to take in enough to make the mortgage/tax payment for the house (Currently $1210 monthly) and cover the costs of the writers writing here (another $255)

As of now we need $1278 to meet this goal by April 30th.

That comes out 51 people kicking in $25 over the rest of the month or basically three people a day.

I think the site and the work done here is worth it, if you do too then please consider hitting DaTipJar below .

Naturally once our monthly goal is made these solicitations will disappear till the next month but once we get 61 more subscribers  at $20 a month the goal will be covered for a full year and this pitch will disappear until 2015.

Consider the lineup you get for this price, in addition to my own work seven days a week you get John Ruberry (Marathon Pundit) and Pat Austin (And so it goes in Shreveport)  on Sunday  Linda Szugyi (No one of any import) on Monday  Tim Imholt on Tuesday,  AP Dillon (Lady Liberty1885) Thursdays, Pastor George Kelly fridays,   Steve Eggleston on Saturdays with  Baldilocks (Tue & Sat)  and   Fausta  (Wed & Fri) of (Fausta Blog) twice a week.

If that’s not worth $20 a month I’d like to know what is?