In Latvia and Europe, Naive Hopes that Russia Will Change Live
On (LatvijasAvize, Latvia)
"Literally on the eve of the Crimean Anschluss, Riga indulged in 'opening
the floodgates' of money and influence from the East. ... 'Russian World' is
not anathema to the West, and may even prove a very lucrative event. Aggression
in Ukraine surprised some of our influential people and made them a little
uncomfortable. Yet they are convinced that sooner or later, everything will
continue as usual, and they will want to step into the same river twice."
Latvia Prime Minister Laimdota Straujuma arrives for a summit of European Union leaders in Brussels, May 27. Are Latvians leaders, and other leaders of the Baltic States, just hoping that the Ukraine crisis subsides and things return to 'normal'?
years ago, when Latvia joined the North Atlantic Alliance and European Union, few
thought of the possibility that a serious conflict would occur between the West
and Russia. The harshest critics of Moscow's policy at the time were themselves
residual Russian democrats.
as time passed, it became increasingly difficult for Europe to argue that the
partnership with Russia was based not only on mutual economic dependence, but common
values. True, when in the Kremlin in May 2008, Vladimir Putin was replaced by techie
and fan of British rock band Deep Purple
Dmitry Medvedev, vague hopes were ignited among Europeans. Then, as a result of the outsized authority of Putin when he occupied of prime minister's chair, they also tended to write
off Russia's invasion of Georgia, and the [2005-2006] "gas war” against
Ukraine. … and because in
Georgia on May 7, 2009, the E.U. launched the Eastern Partnership
the same day, President Barack Obama approached Moscow about improving or "restarting"
U.S.-Russia relations, which many saw as Washington turning away from Eastern
Europe. In turn, in 2010, Medvedev approved Russia's new military doctrine,
which envisaged NATO as the central threat. This doctrine, according to NATO
Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, “doesn't
reflect the real world,” yet the United States and Europe slowly realized that
Moscow was looking at the world in its own peculiar way. That was embodied in,
for example, the “Zapad 2009” military maneuvers, which simulated an invasion
of the Baltic States and a preventive nuclear attack against Warsaw. Russia has
also developed a national security strategy that, by the way, provides for the
development of a national security strategy which, among other things, provides
for the creation of a special “humanitarian and informational environment” in
of Independent States and the Baltic area.
allocated very little money to protect itself, and did nothing to oppose the
dictates of [Russia's] gas monopoly, but it devoted considerable diplomatic
effort to organizing [former President] ValdisZatlers' 2010 visit to Russia. In Latvia, his
journey was called the "symbolization of the end of the Cold War,"
and one that, as the former President GuntisUlmanis said, “will open the floodgates.”
lofty words either confirmed a high degree of naivety on the part of our political
elite, or the effectiveness of the Kremlin’s lobbying efforts, or perhaps both.
The West's remaining illusions about Russia abated at the end of 2011, when it
became quite clear that Medvedev was a fleeting and fictitious sign. That was no
big surprise, but the manner in which the real master made his return triggered
protest even in Russia, and offered a glimpse of how political events might
sort themselves out in the Kremlin-created Eurasian Union.
Latvian officials have finally understood that Putin is ready to use force to
subdue “Russian lands.” But literally on the eve of the Crimean Anschluss,
Riga indulged in, using Ulmanis' words, “opening the floodgates”
of money and influence from the East. The argument that this was done by others
sounds unconvincing, because Moscow’s attitude toward the Baltic States has
always differed from, for example, its attitude toward Western Europe. There
Russia is more cautious. Based on publicly available opinions from Baltic security
services, this was by no means a good time to open the floodgates. While their
opinions are quite similar, the statements from Baltic State leaders reflect a
different understanding of the situation. Estonia and Lithuania were opposed to
Latvia, aka the "hypnotized bunny," which seems to be that the
posture adopted by states should be to support “long-term interests.” Why this
remains to be the case is, as they say, a good question. Moscow’s information
war has equally affected all the Baltic States, and has since time immemorial.
The use of Russian military force to “protect” citizens abroad was already
foreseen in 2010, by its newly-adopted doctrine.
military spending rose sharply and its military presence on the Western
boarders intensified. These and other signs showed that the Kremlin's goal, in
an opportune moment, was “to change the security landscape in Eastern and
Central Europe” (John Kerry's words) is not just a fantasy. In any case, the
historical experience of the Baltic States is sufficient for Balts, given the course of Ukrainian events, not feel as if
this has fallen from the shelf. However, Latvian politicians have made it look
as if it has. In addition, some - we're not speaking about “Concord
Center” or TatjanaŽdanoka - have come
out with some relatively strange statements. The most unpleasant, but perhaps
not the most incorrect explanation, is that this reflects the closeness of some
of our most influential people to Putin’s “Russian World” - who understand the
language and culture of corrupt business methods.
Posted By Worldmeets.US
World” is not anathema to the West, and may even prove a very lucrative event.
Aggression in Ukraine surprised such people and made them feel a little
uncomfortable - after all, lots of the money flow comes from Europe as well. Yet
they are convinced that sooner or later, everything will continue as usual, and
they will want to step into the same river twice.