December 14, 2014This week, an increased data-flow coming from Latvia has called the attention of CESI’s analysts. Data processing speaks for the fact that Moscow is likely to stage a destabilizing operation in Latvia in spring 2015.
This scenario foresees initiating local referendums in Latgale – the eastern region of Latvia, occupying nearly a quarter of country’s territory. As of 2010, the Russians account for approximately 40% of regional population.
The operation is not aimed at annexation of territories, but pursues a goal of creating temporary trouble spots, triggering Latvian authorities’ tough actions on suppressing secessionism in these territories. As a result, Moscow expects the operation to give an impetus to Latvia’s authorities to revise the Russian-speaking population policy, introduce zero-citizenship, lift the existing restrictions on Russian language use, thus enabling to enlarge the number of pro-Russian forces in power.
Data evaluation suggests that this scenario is a transitional one, while the maximum task is to provide conditions for establishing wide autonomies for Russian-speaking territories. According to our estimations, that would be too hard for Kremlin to implement the scenario of total annexation of Latvia’s part without embarking on hostilities, as it is in the east of Ukraine. Compact territory, in such a case, will enable the RF to bring the peacekeeping troops that would occupy a part of the territory and initiate the Latvians’ migration flow, thus tilting the ethnic balance in favor of the Russians.
We expect Russia’s agent cells to be expanded within Latgale’s territory, the pro-Russian propaganda activity to grow, and windows to be formed on the Russian border for movement of arms in case the operation is launched. Analysis of the Russians’ activity sequence in Ukraine speaks for possible work of their intelligence agencies with local government leaders from among the ethnic Russians, having got authority for organizing local population’s mass-scale support while conducting the operation.