Baltic States Between Russia and a Hard Place

Hits: 1101

The political and, in some cases, military stand-off between the West and Russia that has unfolded over Ukraine and Syria also includes a number of secondary fronts in which the two actors’ interests clash.

The Baltic States, a long dormant political issue, reactivated itself following the Ukrainian coup of 2014, as the leaders of these states believed that they could benefit from fanning the flames of conflict. In that they were likely mistaken, as the status of the Baltics in the future of the European order is far from certain.

The coup in Ukraine and the subsequent defection of Crimea from Ukraine to Russia followed by the attempted secession of the Donbass prompted the leaders of the Baltic States to claim that they were the next target of the “resurgent Russian imperialism” that sought to restore the USSR via a variety of “hybrid war” measures. Perfectly normal peacetime activities, such as Russian military maneuvers in the European part of Russia, Baltic Fleet exercises, or military flights over the Baltic Sea were suddenly depicted as somehow illegitimate and aggressive. This approach had a twofold rationale: first, it sought to delegitimize ethnic Russian organizations and parties in the Baltics which counter the worst discrimination regime in Europe, one that deprives many ethnic Russians of citizenship in countries in which they reside. Secondly, the “look, look, Russia is attacking us too” card was intended at securing economic and military assistance from EU and NATO that, in 2014, seemed to pour to the front-line states for their new “Cold War” against Russia.

These hopes so far look misplaced. While NATO maneuvers on the Baltic Sea and on the territories of its “eastern flank” states make headlines, so far, they are far less than what meets the eye. NATO’s bark is still considerably worse than its bite. The most significant indicator of NATO intentions is the construction of permanent bases and logistical infrastructure. Thus far, the eastern-most permanent NATO presence appears to be in Poland, in the form of expanded logistical presence and a Polish-led divisional headquarters that, in the event of war, would coordinate the actions of Polish and Baltic States military formations. However, even the supposedly “permanent” US troop presence in Poland is limited to brigade rotations, deployed away from their permanent bases in Germany or even the United States. Those rotating brigades then spin off battalions on forays into the Baltics where they make use of local bases and training grounds, but with no indication of intent to settle for the long run. Other NATO countries have also contributed units to exercise in the Baltics, and the three countries still benefit from NATO air policing mission, which collectively makes them a significant security drain for NATO member-states. All in all, NATO actions are a response the shock at Russia’s ability to mount major surprise operations with hardly a warning from NATO’s intelligence services. They are unlikely to be a real effort in bolstering the Baltics’ defense posture, which, in any event would be a very expensive proposition.

The center of gravity of Baltic States politics are their economics. During the Soviet era, the three countries were significant manufacturing centers, well integrated into the overall economy of USSR. Following independence and the eventual EU integration, their economies have deteriorated to the point, that the single most important economic activity is transit of goods between the EU to Russia (and, to a lesser extent, China) and vice versa.  In that respect, they are no different from Ukraine, whose economy also heavily depends on transit of goods between the East and the West. The closest Western European equivalent would be the Netherlands and Belgium, whose economies by themselves would not justify the existence of Rotterdam and Antwerp as the largest and second largest sea-ports in Europe. By the same token, Estonia has the ice-free port of Muuga, Latvia boasts of Riga, Liepaja, and Ventspils, and even Lithuania’s economy benefits heavily from the port of Klaipeda. All of these facilities were built by the USSR in order to provide commercial links to the rest of the world, and now they are the cornerstones of these countries’ economies. Imagine for a minute what will happen to the economies of the Netherlands and Belgium, if they decide to declare a “hybrid war” on the EU. This gives a glimpse of the effect that the Russia-West confrontations have on the economic viability of the Baltic states. Even though they are members of the EU and, in the case of Estonia, they have not succeeded in reorienting their economies westward, toward the EU which, frankly, has a very limited need for these countries. Russia’s response in the form of expanding maritime infrastructure in its own Baltic regions, and more recently, requesting that Belarus refrain from using Baltic States’ terminals to export its refineries’ and products from processing Russian petroleum, therefore represents a very effective means of political pressure particularly since the EU, is already planning to limit the structural adjustment subsidies for its Eastern European members, can hardly be expected to come up with the billions of euros necessary to offset the cost of losing Russian transit business. Even in the best of times, the “Baltic Tigers” have experienced major demographic problems due to the rise in emigration and the decline in birth rates, with the resulting aging of the population likely to place a major strain on the countries’ finances.

If anything, the Baltic States are expected to stop being net subsidy recipients and become active energy consumers from the West which will make the dilemma facing the Baltic States even more acute. Nowhere is this more evident than in the construction of LNG terminals in Klaipeda, Lithuania, and Swinoujscie, Poland, and the plans to construct the “Baltic Pipe” gas pipeline linking Poland with the natural gas deposits in the North Sea. Collectively, and consistent with the at least decade-old US aim to achieve dominance of the global energy markets, these efforts are supposed to “wean” the Baltic States off Russian oil and natural gas and replace them with more costly Western imports. In a way, this makes the Baltics’ the victim of their own policies because, as Donald Trump made clear on a number of occasions, buying US LNG is the price these countries must pay for protection provided by the US troops against  “Russian aggression”.

However, the US is not the only country with designs on the Baltics. Poland has reactivated its interest in these countries, all of which at some point where part of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. The fact that Baltic Pipe would run through Poland appears to be part of the effort to recreate a Polish “sphere of influence” expanding into the Baltics. Sweden, whose sovereignty also used to expand into the Baltics, is also seeking a greater political role through the Nordic Council, in which the Baltic States all possess observer status, and whose activities have been endorsed by recent US administrations.

It is not clear whether the current Baltic governments can easily reverse course, given the empowerment of nationalists in each of the three countries. However, the combination of Russia-West conflict, EU retrenchment and renewed focus on integration among its core states, the political pressure exerted by Poland and the US, and the continued loss of Russia-Baltic economic ties may lead to a rapid deterioration of these countries economies with entirely unpredictable political and even military consequences.


Originally published on 2017-10-19

Authors: J. Hawk, Daniel Deiss, Edwin Watson

Source: Global Research

Video: Baltic States Between Russia and a Hard Place

Origins of images: Facebook, Twitter, Wikimedia, Wikipedia, Flickr, Google, Imageinjection & Pinterest.

Read our Disclaimer/Legal Statement!

Donate to Support Us

We would like to ask you to consider a small donation to help our team keep working. We accept no advertising and rely only on you, our readers, to keep us digging the truth on history, global politics and international relations.

[wpedon id=”4696″ align=”left”]

 
READ MORE!
The Long History of Russophobia: Starting with its Religious Roots
The former editor of the Tribune de Genève, [Guy Mettan-RI] visited Moscow and presented his new book Russia and the West: A Thousand Year War, which reviews the phenomenon of Russophobia: its roots, historical evolution and modern incarnations. Izvestia had a chance to interview him. What inspired you to write about this? There are two reasons why I began this work. The first is a personal, family reason. In 1994, my wife and I adopted a Russian girl, who now is now 25. Her name is Oksana, and she is from the Vladimir region. After we adopted her, I became interested ...
READ MORE
The Spirit of Christmas: War Criminals George W. Bush and Tony Blair Banned from the Birthplace of Jesus Christ
First published by GR in December 2006 War criminals George W. Bush and Tony Blair were banned for life in April 2003 from the Church of Nativity in Bethlehem, widely believed to be the birth-place of Jesus Christ. The ban was announced at the height of the illegal US-allied bombing and invasion of Iraq. Below are the original 2003 press reports pertaining to that decision as well as a subsequent introductory note published by Global Research in December 2006. “The Bethlehem sanctuary issued a ringing reprisal Sunday [April 2003] of the coalition attack, going as far as barring US President George W. Bush, ...
READ MORE
The Painful Truth: War is a Racket on Behalf of Wall Street and the Bankers
“We are apt to shut our eyes against a painful truth…For my part, whatever anguish of spirit it might cost, I am willing to know the whole truth; to know the worst, and to provide for it.” —Patrick Henry, Virginia Convention, 23 March, 1775 “The completeness of the victory is established by this fact: that of the six hundred Moros (Muslims living in the southern Philippines at the beginning of the 20th century) not one was left alive. The brilliancy of the victory is established by this other fact, to wit: that of our six hundred heroes only fifteen lost their ...
READ MORE
War Crimes: Agent Orange, Monsanto, Dow Chemical and Other Ugly Legacies of the Vietnam War
Fifty years ago this next month (December 1965), with the urging of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the rubber stamp approval of President Lyndon Johnson and Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara, the United States Air Force started secretly spraying the forests of Laos with a deadly herbicide that was known as Agent Orange. Operation Ranch Hand, whose motto was “Only We Can Prevent Forests” (a shameful takeoff of Smokey the Bear’s admonition), was a desperate, costly and ultimately futile effort to make it a little harder for the National Liberation Front soldiers from North Vietnam to join and supply their ...
READ MORE
“Democracy is Pure Fantasy”: Trump vs. Clinton
It’s all over but the postmortems. Trump and Clinton are their parties’ presumptive nominees. Choice for voters in November amounts to death by hanging or firing squad. Democracy is pure fantasy. None whatever exists. Trump was the last GOP aspirant left standing after all others dropped out, an unlikely choice, a surprise winner, prevailing despite party bosses opposing him.Democrat power brokers chose Clinton before primary/caucus season began. The race was over before it started.Voters in November get to choose between a dirty business as usual billionaire racist, demagogue and a recklessly dangerous neocon racketeer, war criminal, Wall Street tool she ...
READ MORE
Donald Trump: It was a Great Mistake to Bomb the Serbs Who were Our Allies in Both World Wars
Donald Trump with Larry King on the occasion of the anniversary of the bombing of Serbia criticized Bill Clinton and criminal attack on Serbs, the ally of America in both wars. “The Clintons have made a mess in the Balkans and Kosovo. Look what we did to Serbia in an aerial bombardment from a safe height. Those same Serbs rescued American pilots in World War II. It is a mistake that we bombed a nation that has been our ally in two world wars. Clintons believe that was a success, and I find it shameful. I extend an apology to all the Serbs ...
READ MORE
Victims of the (Western) Christian Faith
Listed are only events that solely occurred on command or participation of church authorities or were committed in the name of Christianity. (List incomplete)Ancient PagansAs soon as Christianity became legal in the Roman Empire by imperial edict (315), more and more pagan temples were destroyed by Christian mob. Pagan priests were killed.Between 315 and 6th century thousands of pagan believers were slain.Examples of destroyed Temples: the Sanctuary of Aesculap in Aegaea, the Temple of Aphrodite in Golgatha, Aphaka in Lebanon, the Heliopolis.Christian priests such as Mark of Arethusa or Cyrill of Heliopolis were famous as "temple destroyer." [DA468]Pagan services became ...
READ MORE
Contribution of US Capitalism to Nazi Germany’s War Economy
This past weekend saw Russians parading in celebration of the anniversary of their costly victory over Nazi Germany. Millions marched throughout Russia, holding photographs of their fallen family members in bittersweet remembrance. To this archival research peoples historian’s knowledge there was no public reminder that Hitler’s armed forces were built up by the West in open violation of the Versailles Treaty’s prohibitions in expectation of Hitler fulfilling his threats to invade the Soviet Union. There is simply no way impoverished Nazi Germany could have on its own built its Armed Forces up to number one military in the world during the ...
READ MORE
Is the ‘Greater Albania’ Project Aimed Against Russia in the Balkans?
A project for Greater Albania – conspiracy or legitimate? According to a 2010 Gallup Balkan Monitor report, 83% of Albanians in Albania supported the idea of a Greater Albania, with 81% and 53% of Albanians in Kosovo and North Macedonia respectively supporting such an ambition.The ultimate goal? To have Kosovo and the Preševo Valley in Serbia, southern Montenegro, Epirus in Greece and western North Macedonia into a single Greater Albanian state. Although this may not be official policy of the Albanian Republic, it is ingrained into the Albanian mythos. The very idea of a Greater Albania has roots in the 1913 Treaty of London that left roughly 40% ...
READ MORE
Baltic States Sacrifice Economy on Altar of Politics
Making negative statements concerning Russia, the Baltic States set Moscow against themselves and force it to respond. Especially they irritate it making unproven warlike statements for the sake of “common line” of the EU or NATO on the issue. But as John Steinbeck said “all war is a symptom of man’s failure as a thinking animal.”After major information campaign in the Baltic States aimed to discredit Zapad 2017 military exercise, Russia tries to find the most vulnerable places to hurt the Baltic States. It is absolutely evident, that such sphere is economy. For a long time Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia ...
READ MORE
Origins of the American Empire
Russia, Oil and Revolution By the 1870s, John D. Rockefeller’s Standard Oil Empire had a virtual monopoly over the United States, and even many foreign countries. In 1890, the King of Holland gave his blessing for the creation of an international oil company called Royal Dutch Oil Company, which was mainly founded to refine and sell kerosene from Indonesia, a Dutch colony. Also in 1890, a British company was founded with the intended purpose of shipping oil, the Shell Transport and Trading Company, and it “began transporting Royal Dutch oil from Sumatra to destinations everywhere,” and eventually, “the two companies merged ...
READ MORE
The Death of Milosevic and NATO’s Responsibility: Was He Assassinated?
On March 11, 2006, President Slobodan Milosevic died in a NATO prison. No one has been held accountable for his death. In the 12 years since the end of his lonely struggle to defend himself and his country against the false charges invented by the NATO powers, the only country to demand a public inquiry into the circumstances of his death came from Russia when Foreign Minister, Serge Lavrov, stated that Russia did not accept the Hague tribunal’s denial of responsibility and demanded that an impartial and international investigation be conducted. Instead, The NATO tribunal made its own investigation, known ...
READ MORE
Persecuted Serbian Orthodox Church: The Islamization of Kosovo
The NATO occupation was seen by Arab/Muslim countries as an opportunity to transform Kosovo-Metohija into a Muslim state. Terry Boyd in the Stars and Stripes article “In Kosovo, Islamic groups work to rebuild country, attract followers,” September 21, 2001, examined how Muslim countries were seeking the Islamization of Kosovo. The US State Department listed Kosovo as having active cells of al-Qaeda, Ossama bin Laden’s terrorist network. Al-Qaeda and Ossama bin Laden were aiding the UCK jihad in Kosovo. Iran was also active in Kosovo and Bosnia. Boyd reported that an Iranian Islamic group offered 120-300 German marks a month for ...
READ MORE
US Foreign Policy is as Bellicose as Ever
It only took a few months under Donald Trump’s presidency for the US to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement, impose new sanctions on Russia, reverse the normalisation of diplomatic relations with Cuba, announce its intention to pull out of the Iran nuclear deal, warn Pakistan, threaten Venezuela with military intervention, and declare a readiness to strike North Korea with ‘fire and fury … the likes of which this world has never seen before.’ The Philippines, Saudi Arabia and Israel are the only countries on better terms with the US since Trump’s arrival in the White House on 20 January.Trump is ...
READ MORE
Five Facts About Kosovo the Fakenews Media is Lying to You About
1. Kosovo is not ancient Albanian land Its very name comes from the Serbian word "kos," meaning blackbird. Its Albanian name, "Kosova," means nothing whatsoever. Kosovo was the heartland of medieval Serbian state and the site of the 1389 battle in which both the Serbian prince and the Ottoman sultan died, checking the Turkish expansion into the Balkans for almost 70 years. Ethnic Albanians were settled there by the Ottomans over the intervening centuries, and became a majority due to pogroms and persecution of Serbs - which began under Ottoman rule but continued under Austro-Hungarian occupation in WWI and German/Italian occupation in ...
READ MORE
The White House – A Purpose of the Institution
Origins of images: Facebook, Twitter, Wikimedia, Wikipedia, Flickr, Google, Imageinjection, Public Domain & Pinterest.Read our Disclaimer/Legal Statement!Donate to Support UsWe would like to ask you to consider a small donation to help our team keep working. We accept no advertising and rely only on you, our readers, to keep us digging the truth on history, global politics and international relations.[wpedon id="4696" align="left"]SaveSaveSave
READ MORE
Putin’s New World Order
Is Vladimir Putin the most popular Russian leader of all time? It certainly looks like it. In a recent survey conducted by the All-Russia Public Opinion Research Center,  Putin’s public approval rating soared to an eye-popping 86 percent, which is twice that of Obama’s when he left office in 2016.  And what’s more surprising is that Putin’s popularity has held up through a severe economic slump and nearly two decades in office. Unlike most politicians, whose shelf-life is somewhere between 4 to 8 years, the public’s admiration for Putin has only grown stronger over time. And the phenom is not limited to Russia either.  According to a recent survey by the pollster YouGov, “Putin is the third most admired man in Egypt, the fourth in China, ...
READ MORE
The Macedonian Name Deal Threatens to Erase European Identity
The Liberal-Globalists are carrying out another socio-political experiment in the Balkan petri dish, this time using the Macedonians as lab rats for testing how to most effectively erode a people’s identity before rolling out their weaponized model for replicating this on a continental scale, which they hope will enable them to erase the various nationalisms of Europe in their quest to transform the EU into a “federation of regions”. The Republic of Macedonia and Greece reached a tentative deal to change the former’s constitutional name to the so-called “Republic of North Macedonia” as a “compromise” for Athens agreeing to Skopje’s membership ...
READ MORE
Tokyo Fire Bombing in 1945: 100,000 People Died in a Single Night
On the 70th anniversary of Tokyo’s fire bombing, relatives are asking for a real tribute to its victims. It was just after midnight when the rumble of B-29 bombers was heard, jolting Tokyo awake. The incendiaries that fell from their bellies, full of jelly petroleum, were like nothing anyone had ever seen. They turned canals and rivers into flame and if the jelly stuck to you, it kept burning till flesh turned to bone. “The planes filled the sky like dragonflies,” recalls Michiko Kiyoka. “Everywhere you looked there were charred bodies.” Today, Ms Kiyoka, now 91, will join a small group of elderly ...
READ MORE
Great Powers Rivalry and the Emergence of Albania in 1912-1913
The Great Powers installed a German army officer, a German Prince William, Wilhelm of Wied, Germany, as the first recognized ruler of an “independent” Albania, a puppet or proxy regime or government set up by the Great Powers. In many ways, the conflict between the Great Powers and Serbia over Albania in 1912-1913 prefigured and foreshadowed and was the precursor of the open conflict over Kosovo beginning in 1998. Albania achieved independence only because Serbia and the other Balkan League powers were able to defeat Ottoman Turkey militarily. The Great Powers immediately established a protectorate in Albania and planned to use ...
READ MORE
The Long History of Russophobia: Starting with its Religious Roots
The Spirit of Christmas: War Criminals George W. Bush and Tony Blair Banned from the Birthplace of Jesus Christ
The Painful Truth: War is a Racket on Behalf of Wall Street and the Bankers
War Crimes: Agent Orange, Monsanto, Dow Chemical and Other Ugly Legacies of the Vietnam War
“Democracy is Pure Fantasy”: Trump vs. Clinton
Donald Trump: It was a Great Mistake to Bomb the Serbs Who were Our Allies in Both World Wars
Victims of the (Western) Christian Faith
Contribution of US Capitalism to Nazi Germany’s War Economy
Is the ‘Greater Albania’ Project Aimed Against Russia in the Balkans?
Baltic States Sacrifice Economy on Altar of Politics
Origins of the American Empire
The Death of Milosevic and NATO’s Responsibility: Was He Assassinated?
Persecuted Serbian Orthodox Church: The Islamization of Kosovo
US Foreign Policy is as Bellicose as Ever
Five Facts About Kosovo the Fakenews Media is Lying to You About
The White House – A Purpose of the Institution
Putin’s New World Order
The Macedonian Name Deal Threatens to Erase European Identity
Tokyo Fire Bombing in 1945: 100,000 People Died in a Single Night
Great Powers Rivalry and the Emergence of Albania in 1912-1913

Written by Policraticus

SHORT LEGAL DISCLAIMER: The website’s owner & editor-in-chief has no official position on any issue published at this website. The views of the authors presented at this website do not necessarily coincide with the opinion of the owner & editor-in-chief of the website. The contents of all material (articles, books, photos, videos…) are of sole responsibility of the authors. The owner & editor-in-chief of this website is not morally, scientifically or legally responsible for any inaccurate or incorrect statement in the contents of all material found on this website. The owner & editor-in-chief of this website is not responsible for the content of external internet sites. No advertising, government or corporate funding for the functioning of this website. The owner & editor-in-chief and authors are not morally, scientifically or legally responsible for any inaccurate or incorrect statement in the text and material found on the website www.global-politics.eu

Website: http://www.global-politics.eu