What Putin Intends to Provoke in the Baltic States

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2014/09/24 • Politics

Just as the purpose of terror is to terrorize, the purpose of provocation is to provoke – and if the targets of a provocation understand what the one engaging in it wants to provoke, they will be in a much better position not only to prepare for it but to avoid falling into the trap the provocateur hopes to set and to deny him a victory.

Yesterday, Latvian Defense Minister Raimonds Vejonis said that Moscow may carry out a provocation on Latvian territory when Riga assumes the chairmanship of the EU Council given that the Russian authorities carried out “a multiplicity of provocations” against Lithuania when it assumed that position.

Unfortunately, it is clear that Moscow is not going to wait that long in Latvia or in her neighbors, Estonia and Lithuania.  The illegal seizure of an Estonian security officer by Russian security agencies, actions by the Russian embassy in Riga to recruit militants, and the drumbeat of articles against Lithuania among other things demonstrate that.

Moscow has three obvious purposes by such actions. First, the Putin regime wants to promote fear among the governments and peoples of the Baltic countries the Russian military is about to move and that NATO will not be able or willing to respond to whatever Putin decides to do whenever he decides to do it.

Second, it wants to promote defeatist attitudes there, leading some in the three Baltic countries to conclude that they cannot possibly resist a Russian move and therefore should try to make the best deal they can with Moscow. Even if such people are not numerous, their appearance will divide these countries and make a common defense more difficult.

And third, the Russian government wants to provoke some Estonians, Latvians and Lithuanians into making the kind of hyperbolic statements and taking the kind of actions that will isolate them from the West and provide ammunition to those in Western capitals who argue that no one should “die for Narva,” to use one phrase such people have already put about.

To prevent the Kremlin leader from gaining any success, what Estonians, Latvians and Lithuanians need to do in each case is obvious even if it will not be easy. The West’s response to Russian aggression in Ukraine has been anything but impressive, but Western leaders do understand that they have to defend NATO countries.

If they don’t, these leaders know, the alliance will die: an alliance in which its members have lost confidence in is like a religion in which people have ceased to believe. It no longer exists.  And if NATO ceases to exist, so too does the West understood as the alliance of Western Europe and North America.

Moreover, there is a great deal that the three Baltic countries can do to prepare for their defense.  While more should have been done earlier, more can be done now.  A confident build up and thoughtful preparations for resisting Russian aggression are steps each can and must take. If the three countries do so, Moscow will face a far greater challenge.

Moreover, no one should allow defeatist attitudes to go unchallenged.  A Russian “victory” over the Baltic countries is no certainty, and those who act as if Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania have no choice but to knuckle under to Putin’s “new order” are wrong.  They need to be challenged and isolated.

Putin and his thuggish regime are already overextended. The costs of Crimea and now southeastern Ukraine are mounting. As the Ukrainians have proved by their heroic resistance, Moscow is anything but an irresistible force.  That Russia is a big country with enormous resources is true; that it cannot fail to win is not.

And finally, Estonians, Latvians and Lithuanians must avoid the greatest danger of all – and the main goal of Putin’s provocations.  The Kremlin leader clearly hopes that some in the three Baltic countries will say and do things that will isolate them from the West and make NATO and its member countries as well as their other friends less willing to act.

It is a near certainty that Russian agents are even now encouraging through false flag operations some radical nationalists in all three countries to speak against national minorities or even act against them in ways that Moscow can count on Western media outlets to cover and Western governments to distance themselves from Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

When one’s country is under threat, such nationalist attitudes and actions are perhaps inevitable, but they are a horrible mistake because they work against the very goals that the authors say they seek and instead in almost all cases for the goals of the enemy they say they are opposed to.

In short, as they face this latest threat from Putin’s Russia, Estonians, Latvians and Lithuanians must not allow themselves to be provoked into doing what Moscow wants. Putin must be denied that victory so that he will not have any chance of achieving any larger ones.

 

Source: windowoneurasia.blogspot.com (with permission)

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  • nysq1

    good goals and threat assessment.

  • Dirk Smith

    Paul Goble has a clear insight into how the KGB dwarf operates. This sinister fascist regime will soon run out of options.

  • Murf

    A couple of steps:
    Improve boarder security and defences.
    Develop close ties with western intelligence agencies and improve their own.
    The balts are currently developing a unified air defence network. They should also develope a and unified anti ship defence system. Also their own air force would be useful.
    Develop bilateral military ties with Sweden and Poland.
    If the Baltic are the next focus of Putin’s aggression then they need to remember they are the tip of the spear.
    Depending on another country of your safety is dangerous.

    • Adrian S

      Pre-step: Sweden, Finland should join NATO. This neutrality crap is crappier than crap. Their admission would significantly increase the front width and in itself cause problems to Russia.

      Multiple steps are then need for the ultimate goal: Unified defensive task force from Norway to Poland. Air, sea and land. Strategic, defensive positions should be re-enforced so that nobody doubts it’s a defensive posture.

      There already is a unified response task force from NATO. So it should suffice to counter spearhead attacks from Russia and insurgencies such as in Ukraine. So these countries don’t need an offensive task force.

      The budget of these countries combined would top that of Russian forces deployed in the west of the Federation. All in all, it only needs to be a deterrent. The combined forces of the Baltic states + Poland is not enough.

      • Murf

        Sweden and Finland have a long standing tradition of neutrality so I doubt that will change soon. Although for the first time they are seriously pondering the possibility of joining for the first time.
        I wonder if Putler thought about that when he decided to stir up this mess?
        The price of Urals brent crude oil has dropped to 97 USD per barrel. That’s good news for very body but Russia.
        If you listen closely you almost hear the sucking sound of their economy going down the drain.

        • Adrian S

          How did that helped Finland in the second world war? Poland, Romania, Hungary were also neutral, on paper, in Jan. 1939. Nothing stopped the Nazis from either invading or coercing them into sending troops along side with theirs.

          If there will be politically will, the people will follow this time around as nobody likes what Russia does. It’s still not clear the level of involvement of the Americans, but it’s obviously clear the Russians were quite prepared for what is happening now.

          Can those 2 countries afford to secure themselves, or would a joint operation be better for everybody in the longterm?

          • Murf

            It didn’t do Belgium, Denmark, or Norway much good either, but they learned a valuable lesson.
            Unfortunately old habits are hard to break.

          • Adrian S

            There’s a major difference. Belgium, Denmark or Norway have some of the highest quality of life levels in the world, while in Poland, Romania people are eating food from garbage bins. The difference is that the countries you listed ended up with US/UK while the ones I’ve listed ended up with USSR. So while the point about the war is true, the betrayal of Poland goes much deeper and it’s effects are still visible today.

          • Murf

            I was referring to their pre war neutrality in the face of Hitler’s aggression. He pretty much took what he wanted regardless of legal status. Much like what we are seeing today.