Russia steadily testing resistance of Baltics

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An application filed by two Duma members to investigate legality of recognition of Baltics by Soviet Union on September 6th 1991 fits well with an all-out information attack these past three months – aimed not really to scare the Baltic citizens, but rather to test the reactions of the authorities in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, and the public opinion.

«What is happening is informational attack against the Baltics,» said Alexander Sytin, one of the few Baltics-experts in Moscow, to summarise the articles and declarations aimed against the Baltics in recent months. «They are constantly testing the so-called resistance capacity of the Baltics.»

Having studied the Baltics for a decade in Russian Institute of Strategic Studies (RISI), Mr Sytin is able to speak his mind having been sacked half year ago. In Russia, RISI is among the weightiest think-tanks of its kind, having earlier been under the domain of Russian foreign intelligence service (SVR) but for the last six months directly under Presidential administration. Meanwhile, RISI is still being headed by a retired SVR general.        

In Russian media, articles disparaging the Baltics are a constant phenomenon. In April, however, two analyses of an extraordinary character were published. For starters, a younger generation military analyst Leonid Nersisyan wrote in the portal Regnum, one highly negative towards the Baltics, about how in the case of a biggest possible war Russia was likely to launch a nuclear strike against the Baltics.

Thereafter, however, another mainly Baltics-critical portal NewsBalt published an article even more interesting, in great detail explaining why Russia ought to preventatively conquer the Baltics before the coming great war.

The NewsBalt article was authored by Rostislav Ishchenko, an expert formerly with the administration of Ukraine’s toppled president  Viktor Yanukovych.

Following the Maidan-revolution, he fled to Moscow together with Mr Yanukovych, where he was granted Russian citizenship and employed by the agency Rossiya Segodnya. This is an official propaganda channel of Russian authorities, managed by the infamous Dmitri Kisselyov. It is also known that Mr Ishchenko is in cooperation with the abovementioned RISI.

Considering Mr Ishchenko’s background on the Russian media landscape, his article needs to be considered an initial attempt to trigger in any media accepted in Russia a public discussion about the need to conquer the Baltics while presenting detailed arguments.  

In the opinion of Mr Sytin, the Baltics are an ideal target for introducing all sorts of chauvinistic suggestions in the current political situation in Russia where, in the conditions created by the economic crisis and deepening isolation increased emphasis is being laid on aggressive foreign-political topics.

«The entire community of experts in Russia has been set to work in order to assist the Kremlin’s main goal: restoring the world order as it stood after WW2,» said Mr Sytin.

According to Mr Sytin, the Baltics – Estonia included – should not ignore the statements flagrantly directed against their independence, but react in a manner which clearly shows Russia that maximal measures will be taken to protect themselves.

«You were threatened, you showed fear, consequently you will be threatened even more,» said Mr Sytin. «This is like a hooligan who hits you in the street. As the police is not around, you start to negotiate with him, hoping he will not strike twice. He will most certainly strike again, and even harder!»

The expert said it was most important for Estonia to try and achieve strengthening of NATO presence. «Also, it would be wisdom to think more about creating a Baltic regional security system in cooperation with the Nordics, and that this system would be more operative and mobile that NATO assistance,» said Mr Sytin.

«With steps like that, Russia is likely to back off. I do not believe that the Kremlin is ready to war for the Baltics,» added the analyst.

Also remarkably: as State Duma deputies had recourse to Russian public prosecutor’s office demanding that recognition of the independence of the Baltics be proclaimed null and void, the large Russian news agency announced on June 30th, citing inner sources, that the answer would be the same as with Crimea because the recognition was decided by a unconstitutional body.  

As we know, it was recently decided by Russian public prosecutor’s office that the granting of Crimean peninsula from Russian Federation to Ukrainian soviet republic within the USSR in 1954 was null and void.

It was three days before an official representative of Russian public prosecutor’s office announced that it made no sense to even investigate the application by Duma members regarding recognition of the Baltics, as this would have no legal consequences anyway. Clearly, public prosecutor’s office was meanwhile issued a contrary order from the Kremlin.