Translated by Ollie Richardson & Angelina Siard
The Baltic countries are the best example of how dependent countries can force strong partners to reckon with them. At the same time they are also an example of an inadequate foreign policy leading all three Baltic states towards a catastrophe, considers the political scientist Rostislav Ishchenko.
The coordinated policy of Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia in NATO and in the EU in many respects promoted the dragging of Europe and the US in to a conflict with Russia.
In the US some politicians anyway supported a policy of a strong confrontation in the Russian direction. But the EU joining this conflict is entirely on the conscience of the Balts, Poles, Romanians, Swedes, and partially the Hungarians and Czechs. Moreover, concerning this question, the Baltic countries played a role that was disproportionate to their territorial size and their real political weight.
But that’s ok. After all, it’s the collective efforts of the Eastern European limitrophes, the US, and Great Britain that forced the EU into a confrontation with Russia. The Balts participated in it only at the level of their ability, although actively. But they succeeded in lobbying for the deployment of a NATO contingent on their territory despite the resistance of the European Union and contrary to the frank unwillingness of the US to spent money on this senseless PR action.
Here the known principle “You become responsible for those that you have tamed” worked in the favour of the Balts.
In politics large states or even great powers are often obliged to dance on the tune of their younger partners and to make unplanned and unnecessary gestures, only so that it is impossible to call into question the efficiency of the structures created by them and their reliability as guarantors of security.
The Balts simply used the mechanism of consultations within NATO, having launched a campaign that accuses Russia of having plans to carry out an occupation. The US and the EU understood that Russia has no such plans. Moscow already deprived three countries of any transit value, and through the efforts of the European Union they lost their economy, became deserted, and this process continues.
But at that time Washington itself conducted a propaganda campaign against Russia, accusing it of aggressiveness, capturing Crimea, and blaming it for separating Donbass from Ukraine. The US couldn’t declare that their Baltic allies in NATO are mistaken and that Moscow is quite peaceful in relation to them. It would mean that they protect Ukraine (which is neither in NATO nor in the EU), but leave their allies to the mercy of fate.
The US was obliged to deploy a whole brigade (three battalions) on their territories. However, a brigade was mixed, the units arrived from the different countries of NATO. But the foundation was laid.
The price of military-political success
Now the Balts fight for the growing of this grouping. The logic is clear: the more troops of the Alliance (better if they are American) there will be at the “advanced” Baltic border, the higher the political weight of these states will be. The US, NATO, and the EU will have to attentively listen to all of their future militaristic hysterias.
If they will stage a provocation, it’s the military personnel of the US, Germany, Canada, Great Britain, and Sweden that can suffer (it will depend on who will be there at this moment).
This is how they can drag themselves into a war with Russia and not even understand how it happened.
As we see, the Balts solve their self-made problems at the expense of their senior partners. Except for the main problem, which is in the sphere of the economy. When they left the structure of the USSR they didn’t plan to preserve their own production of minibuses and radio receivers. Agriculture and seaports had to become the main engines of economic development.
The EU forced them to destroy their agriculture – it’s Holland or Germany that will deliver milk and butter to Latvians, Lithuanians and Estonians with pleasure — the old members didn’t need competition. During the reception of new members they made such demands that made the competitive sector of their [Balts – ed] economy not viable.
Transit through Baltic ports was lost a bit later: against the background of a Russophobic campaign launched by local governments, Russia simply couldn’t afford to depend on Baltic transit. It could be blocked at any time, attempts could be made to play with tariffs, jeopardising the export contracts of Russian companies.
If the target is incorrectly set
As we can see, the military-political success and economic catastrophe were achieved at the expense of the same factor — pursuing a Russophobic policy.
And now we will ask ourselves a question: what would happen if the Baltic’s policy was more pragmatic?
On the territory of Latvia, Estonia, and Lithuania there would be no NATO troops, which in case of real big war wouldn’t be defenders, they would be targets – lawful military targets on the territory of the Baltics.
So, it was possible to renounce the Russophobic policy without losses. Moreover, in the condition of normal relations with Russia Baltic transit would work even today and would feed the population of these states. And if they still applied as much force in the fight against the EU for the preservation of their own agriculture as they spent on luring NATO troops, then today they would be quite prospering states and the population would be intact.
So even the correct and effective application of the principles of international relations yields only losses and losses if the target is incorrectly set from the beginning and the chosen instrument of implementation is unsuitable.
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