Paul Goble: Moscow Laying The Groundwork For Ukrainian Scenario In Baltics

Courtesy The Baltic Course
September 17, 2014

The Russian government is laying the groundwork for a Ukrainian scenario in the Baltic countries, arguing that the three are mistreating ethnic Russians, that the West has failed to oppose such actions, and that Moscow is compelled under the circumstances to work to protect these members of “the Russian world,” American analyst and expert on Soviet Union matters, Paul Goble warns, cites LETA.

Goble, who is also the former advisor to the U.S. Secretary of State, draws attention to the recent statements made by Konstantin Dolgov, the Russian Foreign Ministry’s special representative for human rights, democracy and the rule of law.

Goble considers Dolgov’s words both significant and disturbing. “First, it represents a new ramping up of an old Moscow tactic of trying to undercut Western support for the Baltic countries all of whom are members of both the European Union and NATO by talking about their treatment of ethnic Russians and Russian speakers, a tactic that has often worked in the past.”

“Second, he explicitly linked the situation in the Baltic countries to what happened in Ukraine after the Maidan earlier this year, pointing out that Kyiv’s decisions on the status of the Russian language there had “unfortunate” and “far-reaching” consequences. Moreover, such complaints about treatment of Russian speakers in Ukraine preceded the Russian invasion.”

“And third, Dolgov openly encouraged ethnic Russians and Russian speakers in the Baltic states to become more active, promising that Moscow will support them. While some might be inclined to dismiss this as nothing more than a propagandistic exercise, there are unfortunately compelling reasons to think that it is more than that,” writes Goble.

Goble also expresses concern about a story recently aired by Latvian State Television about residents of Latgale reporting that the Russian Embassy in Riga has been recruiting Russian speakers in Latvia, including recently released criminals, to fight for the Russian insurgents in Ukraine.

“Such reports are inflaming the situation because it is all too easy to imagine how Russians in Latvia to fight on the pro-Moscow side in Ukraine could be redirected to fight for a pro-Moscow side in Latvia itself, especially given Dolgov’s suggestions about the need to defend Russians and Russian speakers there,” notes Goble.