European Realists - Baltic Nations
European Realists - Baltic Nations

Probably I should start from the history. Last year in December the President of Russia Vladimir Putin was quite impudent to say during the summit of Normandy Four (that was established for regulation of the conflict in eastern Ukraine, which involves Ukraine, France, Germany and Russia) that transfer of control over boarders of Ukraine and separatist Donetsk and Luhansk ‘republics‘ to Kiev can become new Srebrenica. On 12 July 1995 during the Bosnian war Muslim mass murder of civilians was committed by Serbian division when at least eight thousand people lost their lives. It was the biggest mass murder after World War II. It is symbolic in a macabre point of view that now eastern Ukraine became a certain ‘record-holder’ with minimum 12 thousand deaths of civilians.  

This how ‘serious ‘Vladimir Putin‘s statement looks like, having in mind that Moscow officially does not consider mass murder a genocide but ‘just’ a crime, to tell the truth, in the ‘heat of war’ when as if prisoners of war from Srebrenica Muslim division no 28 were killed and as if they were provoked by previous repressions against Serbians. The Russian Internet ‘goes further’ and states in a conspirational way as if the mass murder was provoked by the management of Muslims as a pretext for NATO to get involved in the Bosnian War. In general, the number of victims was not over eight thousand but two thousand at most. Although all burials and statements prove that minimum eight thousand people were killed and that almost all of them were civilians.  

A ‘life-live’ (one of) samples today. Representative of Ukraine in Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Yevheniy Tsymbalyuk in the meeting of OSCE held on 17 September informed about the tactics of controlled escalation used by Moscow in Donbas in order to make Kiev accept suggested conditions for regulation of the conflict through provocations. Cessation of hostilities that came into effect since 27 July was reached not easily, however Ukrainian forces had to demonstrate its moderation when separatists supported by Russia provoked them by fire on 6 and 10 of September.

A few more details to the ‘picture’. In the middle of September Google informed that just within the second quarter of the current year 78 YouTube channels and three blogs about Syria, fighting COVID-19 in the United States and European Union (EU) with special emphasis to Lithuania and Latvia in Russian and English associated with Russia were removed. ‘Competition’ of the Kremlin with civilized regulations (it is not enough to say the ‘world’) has actually passed a test of time. We should talk not about 10 months between the samples given in the first two paragraphs but almost 14 years after Vladimir Putin‘s speech during Munich Peace Conference held on 10 February 2007, where he expressed his claims to the West in regards to collapse of the Soviet Union and blamed the United States for creating a unipolar world.

Events of similar nature have become a routine now that we have already written about and will have to write maybe always, which might become annoying. We can call them symbolically a geopolitical Mobius strip without going deeper into a geometrical definition of the subject but concentrating on the facts that simultaneously are a very simple and very complicated subject-matter. Ukraine drastically tested by the Kremlin managed to get out of the Mobus reality by an incredible leap in 1914, however nobody can tell whether this leap will be for good.

On 16 September the portal svoboda.org published an article by Elena Fanailova “Divisions of Vatican”, which reminds that a geopolitical situation and historical experience obligate Poland and Baltic States to stay alert in the face of Kremlin ‘s projects already in the 21st century. We read books and watch films about Winston Churchill and Josef Stalin, but we think about Vladimir Putin and Angela Merkel, Emmanuel Macron and Donald Trump, the new populists, Nord Stream-2, European anti-Americans spellbound by the President of Russia, etc.   

According to Russian American historian Yuri Felshtinsky, a political system in the nowadays Russia is absolutely stable, and it has no threats, unless Vladimir Putin starts taking destructive steps in foreign policy. The issue is still open, because the only factor that might stop the Kremlin in Europe is the intrusion of the United States. According to the historian, unfortunately, during presidency of Donald Trump, belief in Moscow is getting stronger that this will not necessarily happen. If this is the case, we have an open question how well Russia is ready not only to take over Belarus but also Russian-speaking Narva town in Estonia that belongs to NATO.

Moreover, the Kremlin is provoking Europe. After Georgia in 2008, Ukraine in 2014, poisonings and killings ‘in some other way’ locally and not only, the West expresses modest ‘anxiety’, however it does not do anything. Such situation only encourages impudence of Vladimir Putin, let ‘s say Moscow actually claims to be the main ‘harmonizer ‘of Belarus.    

The President of the European Union (EU) Ursula von der Leyen in her interview to the French newspaper Les Echos on 18 September admitted that Nord Stream-2 is not just an economic but also a political project, thus under the present situation (first of all, because of poisoning of the most famous Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny) shall be reconsidered, because behaviour of Russia is not improving. Hopes in Europe are disseminating that relations between the EU and Moscow will become closer thanks to this pipeline.      

Finally, it saw the daylight after ‘manoeuvring’ of three years... Do the ones, who supported Vladimir Putin‘s desire to lay one more pipeline to Europe, actually believed  the master of the Kremlin, having ’received’ it, would stop interfering with sovereignty of the neighbouring countries, would freeze military conflicts in its territories for years, be involved in terrorism (shoot down civil airplanes with passengers and kill opponents) in its own country and abroad?

The Baltic States and Poland warned about threats openly and without any avoidance since the very beginning.

A little more about manoeuvres. On 18 September two projects of the conflicting resolutions were discussed in Germany, Bundestag – the faction Alliance /The Greens required to stop Nord Stream-2; representatives of the party Alternative for Germany on the contrary, encouraged to support it, because it secures energy independence. They did not come to voting. According to the weekly Der Spiegel a conference was held in Berlin on the same day, where heads of the governments of the eastern lands of Germany also supported Nord Stream-2.

Finally, what about Germany, the companies of which probably would lose 12 billion Euros in case the project is suspended as the Chancellor of Germany in 1998-2005 and the lobbyist of the Kremlin Gerhard Schröder since then, was threatening (there is also a definition – European Shroederization). Let ‘s say, Hungary is ready to have good relations with Moscow as if the tragedy of 1956 when Soviet tanks supressed Budapest democratic revolution did not exist. Alexander Lukashenko called the authoritarian regime of Viktor Orban in Hungary the closest partner of the EU. We have to remind of Viktor Orban ‘s instigation to the EU to lift sanctions against Minsk as a result of violations of human rights during his first official visit to Minsk at the beginning of June.   

Belarus has clumsy stories with sanctions after ‘election‘. No agreement was reached about sanctions during the meeting of representatives of the Committees of the EU on 18 September, because Cyprus blocked resolution not for the first time (27 member states unilaterally have to vote for), by associating sanctions against Alexander Lukashenko regime with the desired punishment of Nicosia to Turkey in the dispute regarding exploration for crude oil and natural gas in the eastern part of the Mediterranean Sea. After negotiations with Minister of Foreign Affairs of Cyprus Nikos Christodoulides, the position of Cyprus was supported by Minister of State for European Affairs of France Clément Beaune.   

With all respect to economic interests of Cyprus, even if Nicosia is ready to associate them with sovereignty of its country, however these are issues of different value weight when we are talking about open terror against the wish of citizens to express their free will.

Especially when the Belarussian dictator is terrorising and asking the President of Russia for new weapons. He even openly lets us know the purpose of these weapons: ‘For unmasking those players. At the global level of centres the United States and their specific funds designated for supporting of so-called democracy are lading. In the European continent, American satellites such as Poland, Lithuania, Check Republic and sadly, our Ukraine, are acting actively’.

This is the context where Baltic nations are acting. The Prime Minister of Latvia Arturs Krišjānis Kariņš in his interview to the German TV channel ARD on 13 September asked a rhetoric question what must happen after poisoning of Alexei Navalny to make Europeans believe that namely Russia is posing the greatest threat to Europe and its values. He made an express generalization that we must open our eyes finally and to have more realistic grounds in relations between the EU and Russia. According to the Prime Minister of Latvia, Baltic States and Poland have consistently instigated Europe to withdraw from the project Nord Stream-2 and now in the present context we cannot ignore this any longer.

The President of Lithuania Gitanas Nausėda in his interview to the TV channel Sky News of Great Britain on 14 September told that government of Alexander Lukashenko is not legitimate and warned that in case the western countries continue to be passive observers of the situation, Russia might seek to totally ignore Belarus. In his interview to the news agency on 11 September he indicated that a list of sanctions without Alexander Lukashenko (disputes about him are still going on in the EU) just makes us smile.

Minister of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania Linas Linkevičius on 18 September, peacefully reacted to statements of the President of Belarus to close the borders and increase security in the Western side as inadequate. According to the Minister, Minsk is trying to blame external forces for its crisis and if there are no such, he is trying to find them by any means. Linas Linkevičius is worried about statements telling to move the military forces to borders also as an inadequate reaction of an inadequate person.   

Something about the link between common sense, real possibilities and screams: after the dictator of Belarus severely ‘spoke out‘’ to all possible TV cameras about directing its cargos through Russia, later he more quietly and adequately specified – in case Russia offers the same conditions. In a theoretical point of view, Belarus has all possibilities to be the granary of Europe, the prosperous country of agriculture. However, a country that is three times bigger by its territory and number of people than Lithuania, exports less agricultural products. Although conditions for agriculture are absolutely the same. This is because agriculture of Lithuania has been already reformed with the help of the EU, however in Belarus collective farms and Soviet farms still exist.

The Baltic States are doing much according to the example and talking little. We must remind again that they are the most consistent supporters of Sergei Magnitsky and other sanctions as a way of pressure against Moscow to make her return to civilized solution of problems. At the beginning of July Latvia and Lithuania made a decision to put a ban on TV broadcasting of the international megaphone of the Kremlin RT channel (previously Russia today) because of its relations with propagandist Dmitry Kiselyov, who is included in the ‘black’ list of the EU. Sanctions against him are imposed because of his significant role in supporting annexation of Crimea in 2014 (President of Russia awarded him a medal) and aggression of Russia in the east of Ukraine. And so, on and so forth.

We can partly reasonably blame this narration with repeating of the already known. Everything is the same, only cases repeat, to tell you the truth, from what we can see from the given facts. Thus, maybe I would not make a deadly sin if I repeat again what the sixth President of Latvia Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga  told during the Kiev Forum ‘The Ongoing War: Tragedy and Lessons of World War II in a New Reality‘ held on 9 May: Vladimir Putin., who likes chauvinist and imperialistic narratives, has admitted that he was educated by propagandistic films about Soviet heroism, seems to be stuck in the ‘time machine‘ and thus he was not able to grow up to understanding about the benefits of democracy.    

Arūnas Spraunius



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