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Lithuania
 
  Baltic States in the European chaos

Boris Tumanov
2008 11 06

 

 

The emotional speech of C. Rice, when she referred to the Russian behavior as „the aggressively paranoiac“, was one of the last responses towards the verbal war between the West and Moscow after the crisis in Georgia.

In fact, from the beginning of September, threats addressed by the Russian authorities towards the West after the military invasion to Georgia were replaced by the statements of conciliation. Suddenly it became clear that Russia did not want to dissociate from the cold war; that it respected the territorial integrity of Ukraine and other post-soviet states; that „humanitarian operation“ in South Ossetia was a necessary and exceptionally onetime step; that Russia was about to join the World Trade Organization and was still loyal to „the universal principles of democracy“.

The above changes were understood as the signs of the Russian recession. Externally these changes could look like a recession. But the situation is not as simple as that.

The response of the United States and European countries towards the Russian actions in Caucasus revealed the split not only between the United States and Europe, but also in the European Community. In the light of aggressive statements of the United States, France, Germany and Italy seem to be dancing to Russia‘s tune. However, in the EU such a position is criticized by certain Central European countries which are more apt to place credit in the United States.

An obvious reluctance of the old EU Member States to complicate the relationship with Russia is predetermined by pragmatic reasons: Georgia does not deserve to be a reason of the threat to the comfort of cooperation with Gazprom. The proposal of N.Sarkozy „to establish a single economic continental community merging Europe and Russia“ is based on this logic.

The above situation was accordingly evaluated in Moscow: by retaining loyal relations with the EU, Russia increases contradictions between the United States and Europe. The fact that Moscow refuses the aggressive rhetoric indicates that its actions are predetermined by the ambition to sustain favorable trends which have showed up in the behavior of main European states.

In any case, the strategic Russian objectives are not yet clear.

One cannot reject the fact that by invading Georgia Russia demonstrated the intention not only to increase its impact in the post-soviet space, but sooner or later „to pocket“ the territories lost after the collapse of the Soviet Union. The Eurasian ideologists, who have become especially active during recent days, are openly identifying the first „candidates“ of the repeated merge with Russia – Ukraine, Belarus and North Kazakhstan.

Today it is too early to define the extent of compliance of these fantasies with the actual intentions of Moscow, and, most importantly, the probable realization of these fantasies without major military encounters.

In any case, the Baltic States would hardly become the object of the Russian claims. However, taking into consideration how accurately the Russian diplomats calculate the economic loss of the Baltic States incurred by the „anti-Russian policy“, most probably Russia would punish them through kroone, lat and litas.

Presumably the above perspective made the Latvian president V.Zatler announce that „Russia does not represent any threat to Latvia, and NATO does dot refer to Russia as a threat to NATO“.

Would the above statement be enough to calm down Moscow?

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