Estonian Diplomacy With a Ukrainian Aftertaste and American Decor

Estonia refused to ratify the Treaty on the State Boundary and Delimitation of Maritime Spaces signed with Russia in February 2014.

The argument is interesting. The Speaker of the Parliament of Estonia, Henn Põlluaas, motivated the unwillingness of the ruling coalition to complete the ratification of the treaty by stating that in this case the Treaty of Tartu of 1920 would be annulled.

This is true, any subsequent treaty cancels the previous one concluded by the same parties on the same topic. However, the Treaty of Tartu has already been annulled. At least because, if you follow the subtleties of legal casuistry, Estonia itself declared it invalid. The fact is that it can, of course, be argued that when deciding to join the USSR in July 1940, the Parliament of Estonia acted under the threat of bayonets of the Soviet grouping deployed in the country and in a situation of urgent necessity – which, as a rule, the Estonians do.

But, firstly, the supporters of dictator Konstantin Päts, who lost power as a result of Estonia’s accession to the USSR, fought on the side of the Reich during World War II. Consequently, the “restored” Estonian state is the side that lost World War II and is obliged to settle its relations with the winner.

Secondly, all decisions on the “restoration” of Estonia were taken by the Supreme Council of the Estonian Soviet Socialist Republic (although since March 11th 1990 there has been a parallel Parliament – the Congress of Estonia, elected by Estonian citizens until 1940 and their descendants). Thus, the “restorers” themselves recognised the legitimacy of the authorities of the Estonian Soviet Socialist Republic (or, as they say, the “Soviet occupation”). Thus, all decisions of these bodies (including the change of republican borders, compared to the Treaty of Tartu) are legitimate.

Thus, in any version, the Treaty of Tartu, which in Estonia is treated like God’s gift, has long been annulled and is not in force.

Finally, Estonia itself recognised this not only de facto, but also de jure. Tallinn had once thwarted ratification of the 2005 border treaty. During the ratification process, Estonian parliamentarians unilaterally included a reference to the Treaty of Tartu, after which Russia withdrew its signature from the Treaty and the negotiation process was restarted. It is clear that if Estonia tried to make a reference to the provisions of the Treaty of Tartu in a new document, it thus declared the Treaty of Tartu invalid. If it were relevant today, Estonians would not have to carry out reanimation measures.

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Let us ask a simple question: what exactly is Estonia trying to achieve by repeatedly disrupting the settlement of the issue of the state border with Russia? After all, in fact, the most it can count on is laying claim in the future to the Ivangorod and Kingisep districts of the Leningrad region and part of the Pechorsky district of the Pskov region.

But how can it count on this? Given that the port of Ust-Luga is located in the Kingisepp district, and in Pechorsky there is the Pskovo-Pechorsky Monastery, the first claimant for the status of a new Lavra, Estonia can only dream of territorial increments. Especially since even in the UN it entered in September 1991 within the borders of the Estonian Soviet Socialist Republic.

In general, the situation is absolutely delusional. Taking into account that in ancient times princes of ancient Rus built the foundations of even Tartu itself, calling it Yuryev, and they owned no less than half of modern Estonia, such a small and weak state, which also cries every day in anticipation of “Russian aggression”, it is necessary to remove as quickly as possible all controversial problems (especially the border) with the “big and terrible” neighbour. Especially since the neighbour does not demand anything from Estonia, leaving it all the lands of the Estonian Soviet Socialist Republic and not even claiming compensation for everything built in Estonia during the years of Soviet power using the money of the Union’s budget (manyfold more was spent on Estonia than it earned).

It is also worth noting that both the Kingisepp and Pechorsky districts have a Russian population hated by Estonians. In case of the hypothetical accession of these territories, Estonia would be obliged to provide this very population with its citizenship, which is in total conflict with the practice of displacing Russians from Estonia and limiting their possibilities of obtaining citizenship.

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And yet Estonia, with perseverance worthy of better application, tears up any agreements reached by its own representatives, clearly having no chance of any acquisitions. Moreover, because of its destructive, Russophobic position, Estonia, like the entire Baltics, is seriously losing. The economic losses of the “small but proud” republic, including the collapse of trade turnover of ports, the decline in the volume of freight transportation by rail, the loss of the Russian market by food enterprises and the processing industry have already amounted to billions of euros. Of course, among the Baltic states, Estonia can be considered an island of relative economic well-being (although its population is also intensively scattered). But this is no reason to suffer economic losses for nothing. Any irrational behaviour must have a rational cause.

The answer to the question about the rational grain in the irrational behaviour of the Baltic states was given on January 8th by the former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Latvia (neighbour of Estonia) Jānis Jurkāns. He openly said that Riga’s attitude towards Moscow depends on the US’ policy. And he explained that if Latvia went closer to Russia, the United States would impose sanctions similar to those imposed on companies involved in the “Nord Stream 2” project.

By the way, Latvia also has territorial claims to Russia. Latvian does not leave alone the Pytalovsky district of the same Pskov region, which belonged to them once (according to the Riga Peace Treaty of 1920). The consequences are roughly the same – relations with Russia are spoiled, and the chances of acquiring territories are zero. Yet Latvia does not surrender, and neither does neighbouring Estonia.

I think that the former Foreign Minister of Latvia would not lie, characterising the policy towards the local regimes of their main ally – the USA. Especially since we see similar practice in Ukraine. You can do whatever you want, cause yourself any damage, start a civil war, lose territory, as long as at the same time Russophobic hysteria is inflated.

Compared to Ukraine, which announces an attack by Moscow three times a day and labels Russia as an aggressor, the Baltic states can even be considered relatively moderate. They have come up with a story about disputed territories and exploit it for the joy of the United States, but without much fanaticism. However, in the last couple of years the Balts have also become more belligerent – they demanded the deployment of several NATO battalions on their territory, which are supposed to save them from “Russian aggression”.

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Judging by how quickly this rhetoric was supported by the US, it means they also ordered it. Washington needs to increase tensions on Russia’s borders, create a sense of real military danger in Moscow, provoke Russia to take preventive measures that could be inflated in the West’s information space as a fact of undeniable unprovoked aggression against small and weak neighbours. The US needs “victims of the terrible Russia” to force Europe if not to start a war with Moscow for the Baltics, then at least out of horror and disgust abandon “aggressive Russia” and to stop economic cooperation with it.

While Russia was relatively weak, the Pechorsky, Pytalovsky, and Kingisepp districts, as well as periodic gas wars with Ukraine, were enough to bind its hands. When Moscow became stronger, it was necessary to counter it in Europe with something more powerful. The Kremlin simply stopped paying attention to pro-American limitrophes. Therefore, now they are trying to send the small and weak to the slaughter as provocateurs of a war against Russia, which the Americans will try to turn into a pan-European (non-nuclear), in order to remain on the sidelines and earn money from the military crisis.

I do not know whether all tragicomony of the situation in Ukraine is understood (it seems that it is not), but the Baltics, judging by the statement of Jānis Jurkāns, understand, only nothing can be done. The gentle embrace of the hegemon is at any moment ready to tighten and crush the disobedient. Baltic elites should still be glad that Trump is not calling them or threatening to kill them like Iraq’s Prime Minister. Yet…


Rostislav Ishchenko

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