Quotes: MENA   Enter Symbol: NewsLetter: Search: advanced

Baltic states jittery over 'unpredictable' Russia  Join our daily free Newsletter

MENAFN - AFP - 09/03/2014
No. of Ratings : 0
Add to Mixx!



(MENAFN - AFP) Standing in the shadow of a massive, grey former KGB building in a busy Vilnius street, Lithuanian pensioner Rimantas Gucas worries history could repeat itself if the West fails to stop Russia from absorbing Ukraine's Crimean peninsula.As Lithuania marks 24 years since it broke free from the crumbling Soviet Union and a decade since it joined NATO, people here and in fellow Baltic states Estonia and Latvia are jittery over Russian moves in Crimea.Russian President Vladimir Putin is a "madman" who "won't stop until he's stopped by force," Gucas, 72, who grew up under Soviet occupation, told AFP."Should we in the Baltic states be worried too? Ukraine reminds us of the takeover of Czechoslovakia in 1938. Should we now wait for a repeat of the 1939 attack on Poland?" he said, recalling the moves by Nazi German dictator Adolf Hitler that sparked World War II.The former KGB Soviet secret-service building in Vilnius is now a court and museum with the names of partisans who fought Soviet occupation from 1944-1953 carved on its stony wall. Soviet troops also killed 14 civilians when they stormed a Vilnius television tower in January 1991 in a failed bid to crush independence.

"I think Putin should be called 'Putler' or 'Stalin II'," said Vilnius pensioner Birute Jurksiene, comparing the Russian president to Hitler and Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin."The West didn't suffer like we did, so they just can't understand."The USSR occupied and then annexed Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania during World War II. Mass deportations to Siberia and Central Asia followed.The trio remained firmly under Moscow's thumb until Kremlin leader Mikhail Gorbachev came to power and began the Perestroika and Glasnost political and economic reforms, which triggered the USSR's collapse in 1991.Lithuania, where about six percent of the population are Russian, was the first Soviet republic to declare independence on March 11, 1990. Estonia and Latvia were quick to follow.All three joined the EU and NATO in 2004 in a bid to seal their independence from Moscow.- NATO shield -

But an invitation to independence festivities in Vilnius on Tuesday posted by organisers on Facebook warned that events in Ukraine prove that "independence and freedom can be very fragile, even today".Also comparing Putin to Stalin, Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite starkly warned that Russia is "dangerous" and "unpredictable" during a recent emergency EU summit in Brussels focused on Ukraine."This is about rewriting borders," the tough-talking former EU budget chief said, pointing to Crimea.The EU is mulling economic sanctions against Moscow over its actions there, with hawkish Eastern European members pushing the hardest.Vilnius University analyst Kestutis Girnius is, however, more circumspect about the threat posed by Moscow. He said EU and NATO membership make the Crimea scenario highly improbable in the Baltic states."Since NATO would lose all credibility if it failed to defend them, it has an overriding motive to come to their defence. Russia knows this, and thus will avoid tempting fate," he told AFP.Moscow has special links to Crimea, which was transferred from Russia to Ukraine in 1954 when they were both part of the USSR. That is not the case for the Baltics, he added.

"The Soviet occupation of the Baltic states was never recognised by the West and Moscow grudgingly accepted 'Baltic exceptionalism'. Russia made clear its opposition to Baltic entry into NATO, but made no serious efforts to halt the process," Girnius explained.But Moscow's brief 2008 war with ex-Soviet Georgia and Russian military exercises focused on cutting off the Baltic states from the rest of NATO sparked concern.As the Crimea crisis escalated, Washington sent six additional F-15 fighter jets Thursday to step up NATO's Baltic air policing mission from a base in Lithuania, expanding the squadron to 10.- Promises -Lithuanian Defence minister Juozas Olekas called the deployment a response to "Russian aggression in Ukraine and additional military activity in the Kaliningrad region," Russia's exclave bordering Lithuania and fellow ex-communist NATO member Poland.Moscow slapped trade restrictions on Lithuania last year -- a move Vilnius dubbed retaliation for its key role in efforts to seal an EU association pact with Ukraine. Ousted president Viktor Yanukovych rejected the agreement in favour of an aid deal with Russia, sparking the protests that ultimately led to his ouster last month.Moscow's promises to "defend" ethnic Russians in Crimea have set off alarm bells in Latvia and Estonia, where Russian-speakers make up around a quarter of population.Latvia's Foreign Minister Edgaras Rinkevics recently tweeted that the "Crimea scenario resembles occupation of the Baltic states by the USSR in 1940".Leonid, one of Latvia's 300,000 Russian-speakers, insists Moscow has no business in Ukraine. "Military force just isn't right," the 60-year-old told AFP in the capital Riga. "It's a tragedy that Russians and Ukrainians are against each other when we're brothers," he added.But the largest party in Latvia's parliament has refused to condemn Russia outright.Supported mainly by ethnic Russians and with ties to Vladimir Putin's United Russia party, the Harmony Centre said that both Moscow and Kiev were to blame for tensions.Enn Tart, a Soviet-era dissident in Estonia, warned Russia "will always make demands on its neighbours, as it has done for centuries"."But I hope the EU and US will finally understand that Putin should be stopped," he said.

 


AFP




  MENA News Headlines
 Apr 19 2015 - Egypt, OPEC sign USD27m finance loanMENAFN
(MENAFN) The Egyptian Ministry of International Cooperation signed a USD27 million financing deal with OPEC Fund for International Development to help the government in establishing Ain Shams ...

 Apr 19 2015 - 83.7% annual increase in railway revenues during December: CAPMASDaily News Egypt
(MENAFN - Daily News Egypt) There has been an 83.7% increase in the revenues of railway transportation during December 2014, reaching EGP 99.4m, according to the Central Agency for Public ...

 Apr 19 2015 - QNB Al-Ahli net profits up 30% in MarchDaily News Egypt
(MENAFN - Daily News Egypt) Net profits for Qatar National Bank (QNB Al-Ahli) reached EGP 622m in March, marking a 30% increase compared to the same month in 2015, the bank announced ...

 Apr 19 2015 - Egypt- Minister of International Cooperation predicts further economic growthDaily News Egypt
(MENAFN - Daily News Egypt) The global decrease in oil prices is of benefit to Egypt, on the one hand, but may have a negative impact, on the other, according to Minister of International Cooperation ...

 Apr 19 2015 - Egypt, CMI sign MoUDaily News Egypt
(MENAFN - Daily News Egypt) Minister of International Cooperation Naglaa Al-Ahwani has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with World Bank Vice President for the Middle East and North Africa ...

 Apr 19 2015 - Notorious conman reveals holes in Egyptian investment marketDaily News Egypt
(MENAFN - Daily News Egypt) Prosecution investigations revealed that a notorious conman, known as Al-Mestarayah, has only EGP 7m in six Egyptian banks, contrary to the EGP 300m that he has allegedly ...

 Apr 19 2015 - UAE, Egypt sign deal to construct 50k housing unitsMENAFN
(MENAFN) The United Arab Emirates are set to sign a construction deal with Egypt that includes the building of 50 thousand housing units in Egypt's new capital project, Amwal Alghad reported.The ...

 Apr 19 2015 - Kuwait finalises investment arm in EgyptDaily News Egypt
(MENAFN - Daily News Egypt) Kuwait has completed the lengthy establishment of a company through which the state's future investments in Egypt will be carried out, a source familiar with the Gulf ...

 Apr 19 2015 - Egypt- Anti-death penalty group pleas to halt execution of 7 citizensDaily News Egypt
(MENAFN - Daily News Egypt) The "Against the Death Penalty" group met with the National Council for Human Rights (NCHR) after urgently appealing the council to stop the execution of seven citizens in ...

 Apr 19 2015 - Egypt receives $27m OPEC loanDaily News Egypt
(MENAFN - Daily News Egypt) The Ministry of International Cooperation signed a loan worth $27m with the OPEC Fund for International Development to support Ain Shams Specialized Hospital.This came on ...

more...


 






Google

 
 

Middle East North Africa - Financial Network

MENAFN News Market Data Countries Tools Section  
 

Middle East North Africa - Financial Network
Arabic MENAFN

Main News
News By Industry
News By Country

Islamic Finance News
Private Equity News

How-To Guides
Technology Section

Travel Section

Search News

Market Indices
Quotes & Charts

Global Indices
Arab Indices

Commodoties

Oil & Energy

Currencies Cross Rates
Currencies Updates
Currency Converter

USA Stocks
Arab Stocks
 

Algeria 
Bahrain 
Egypt 
Iraq
Jordan 
Kuwait 
Lebanon
Morocco 
Oman 
Palestine
Qatar 
Saudi Arabia 
Syria
Tunisia 
UAE 
Yemen

Weather
Economic Calendar
Financial Glossary


Financial Calculators

RSS Feeds [XML]

Corporate Monitor

Events

Real Estate
Submit Your Property

Arab Research
Buy a Research

Press Releases
Submit your PR

Join Newsletters


 
© 2014 menafn.com All Rights Reserved.  Terms of Service | Privacy Policy | Contact Us | Advertise | About MENAFN | Career Opportunities | Feedback | Help