Estonia Next? Russia "Signals Concern" For Its Citizens In The Baltic Republic
Submitted by Tyler Durden on 03/20/2014 08:51 -0400
Amid the growing Crimea crisis, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania - which like Ukraine were all parts of the old Soviet Union and have very significant concentrations of ethnic Russian-speaking citizens - have expressed growing apprehension over Moscow's intentions. As Reuters reports,Russia signaled concern on Wednesday at Estonia's treatment of its large ethnic Russian minority, comparing language policy in the Baltic state with what it said was a call in Ukraine to prevent the use of Russian. "Language should not be used to segregate and isolate groups," the envoy noted, referencing the same 'linguistic tensions' that supported its annexation of Crimea.
Russia signaled concern on Wednesday at Estonia's treatment of its large ethnic Russian minority, comparing language policy in the Baltic state with what it said was a call in Ukraine to prevent the use of Russian...."Language should not be used to segregate and isolate groups," the diplomat was reported as saying. Russia was "concerned by steps taken in this regard in Estonia as well as in Ukraine," the Moscow envoy was said to have added....Russia has defended its annexation of Ukraine's Crimea peninsula by arguing it has the right to protect Russian-speakers outside its borders, so the reference to linguistic tensions in another former Soviet republic comes at a highly sensitive moment.Russia fully supported the protection of the rights of linguistic minorities, a Moscow diplomat told the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva, according to a summary of the session issued by the U.N.'s information department.
Making all the Russian border nations nervous
Amid the growing Crimea crisis, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania - which like Ukraine were all parts of the old Soviet Union - have expressed growing apprehension over Moscow's intentions.U.S. Vice President Joe Biden is currently in the Lithuanian capital Vilnius as part of a trip to reassure the three countries, all European Union and NATO members, of Washington's support.
But, the market knows best and stock took Putin at his word that he was done with taking Crimea... or are markets "wrong"and merely an illusory peak at the marginal flow of carry slooshing around the globe?
It is perhaps not entirely surprising that Estonia would be "next" since the concentration of ethic Russians there is the highest of all the former Soviet Republics...
As NPR adds, it's not just The Batics that are worried...
In the region roughly southeast of the Baltic states that includes Ukraine, Belarus and Moldova, all three have sizable ethnic Russian populations.
Belarus, with about 8 percent of its population Russian, enjoys warm relations with Moscow and has signed on (along with Kazakhstan) to join Russia's "Eurasian Union" trade bloc that The Guardian says Putin hopes will grow into a " 'powerful, supra-national union' of sovereign states like the European Union."
Meanwhile, Moldova's smaller Russian population (about 6 percent) is concentrated in Transnistria, an autonomous region that is trying to separate from the rest of the country. The analogy with Ukraine and Crimea couldn't be more stark, suggests The International Business Times.
Some 2,000 of the Kremlin's troops are enforcing a cease-fire in Transnistria between Russian separatists and the Moldovan government. Although the region borders Ukraine and not Russia, given the instability in Kiev and Transnistria's proximity to Crimea and the Black Sea coast, Moldova eyes it warily.
What's more, since the Crimean crisis broke out, Transnistria's local Parliament has asked Moscow to grant the breakaway region Russian citizenship and admission to the Russian Federation.
The Baltic States
Latvia and Estonia have significant ethnic Russian populations. About 27 percent of Latvia's 2 million people are Russian, as are about a quarter of Estonia's 1.3 million. According to The Telegraph, the Russians in Latvia migrated there during Soviet rule when they were able to occupy the top rungs of civil and political society.
"But ever since communism's collapse, the boot has been firmly on the other foot. Latvian, not Russian, is the official language, and the country is now one of NATO's newest — and keenest — members, along with fellow Baltic states Lithuania and Estonia," the newspaper writes.
According to Reuters, Latvia and Estonia in particular "are alarmed by [Putin's] justification for Russian actions in and around Ukraine as protection for Russian speakers there.
"While all three Baltic republics have joined NATO — and Lithuania next year should be the last of the three to adopt the euro —these small countries are largely dependent on energy from Russia and have strong trade ties," Reuters writes.
"Last weekend, as pro-Russian forces were surrounding Crimea, Moscow's ambassador to [Latvia] caused further unease by saying that the Kremlin was planning to offer passports and pensions to ethnic Russians in Latvia to 'save them from poverty,' " The Telegraph says.
Kazakhstan, with just under a third of its population ethnic Russia, is one of the Kremlin's key allies. The BBC says it's "Moscow's strategic partner and the two countries regularly hold joint military exercises. They have close trade links as both are trying to develop a common market." The relationship, it says, is comparable to the one enjoyed between the U.S. and the U.K.
"But Russia's military action in Crimea has created unease among Kazakhs. They are worried that a 'Ukrainian scenario' could also apply to this Central Asian nation," the BBC says.
Kazakhstan's northern Kostanay region is about half ethnic Russian, and in other regions, especially to the east, "there are fewer ethnic Kazakhs than ethnic Russians," according to The Washington Post.
On Monday, Kazakhstan's pro-Russian President Nursultan Nazarbayev was said to "understand" Russia's position vis-a-vis Crimea, according to Reuters, "which struck many as a very carefully worded way of phrasing it," according to the Post.
Kyrgyzstan, with about a 12 percent ethnic Russian population, also has a Kremlin-leaning president, Almazbek Atambayev. But the country has carefully balanced East and West until now, allowing both a Russian military base and a U.S. air base on its soil. That is set to change, however.
While the Caucasus is home to only small minorities of ethnic Russians, it's a region that has suffered from the Kremlin's attentions. Chechnya has been the locus of a brutal separatist conflict with Moscow. Georgia saw its South Ossetia region cleaved by Russia's 2008 incursion.
In 1992-93, the breakaway Abkhazia region of Georgia also underwent a civil war in which ethnically Georgian militias, supported by the Georgian state, were pitted against "ethnically Abkhazian militias supported both by North Caucasus militants ... from Russia and by the Russian state itself, which provided weapons and training to the fighters and carried out airstrikes against ethnic Georgian targets."
It's clear too that the Crimea situation has raised concerns in Azerbaijan.
The Next One: Moldova's Transnistria Region Said To Seek Russian Accession
Submitted by Tyler Durden on 03/18/2014 10:35 -0400
( Does a super power seek promises not to attack from an adversary ? )
Many had feared (or expected), fallout from Crimea's referendum and subsequent accession to Russia may embolden ethnic minorities in many bordering nations to seek self-determination. It appears that is taking place in Moldova where Vedomosti reports that Mikhail Burla, head of the Transnistria region's legislature, has asked Russia's Duma for draft laws on accession to Russia to be altered to allow the region to join. The timing of this move is surreal as headlines appeared this morning that Europe is looking to speed up its "association" with Moldova. In a 2006 referendum, over 97% of Transnistrians voted to join Russia...
Who is next?
Moscow-based newspaper cites letter from Mikhail Burla, head of Transnistria’s legislature, to the head of Russia’s State Duma.Letter asks for Russian draft law on accession to Russia to be altered to allow for Transnistria to join, says current draft bill would only allow for Crimea to join Russia2006 referendum in Transnistria saw 97.2% vote to join Russia, Burla cited as saying in letter
What is the problem in the U.S.? They talk about the weakness of Russia, but still afraid of competition on our part. They do not want a competitor. China - a rival, but not a competitor. And the U.S. is not interested in what system in Russia - monarchical, feudal, communist. Only interested in how to relax, but better - to split. Yeltsin they liked - when it broke up the country. Putin does not like it - he wants to save Russia...."It's been 60 years - not even changed a generation, if Crimea voted for reunification with Russia, the situation arises where any normal person would say, but what distinguishes the situation in Transnistria?- Says Leonid Reshetnikov. - The question becomes relevant than ever. Have to wait for the Americans attempt to deal with Transnistria. They have no other way to make a muck of Russia. They are afraid that gathered to fight with someone. Who will fight?...Russia, in my opinion, after the Crimea should recognize Transnistria Tiraspol and propose to hold another referendum on reunification with Russia. Differently protect Transnistria we can not....We must not make concessions when we openly say that Russian world should be destroyed. I urge the show will. We must not become the new Bulgaria, the new Serbia. These and other countries have become dependent on the United States. Travel to Bulgaria, look - no minister in Sofia not be appointed without the consent of the U.S. ambassador....Now we prepare for the dissemination of Russian legislation in Transnistria. It would be difficult without a strong methodological support. For this great help RISS - special thanks. Two years ago, our president assured the Russian expert community that we will conduct a Eurasian course. It took not much time to see all that we have taken the first steps in this direction. "
And then this...
- *EU MAY SPEED UP SIGNING OF MOLDOVA ASSOCIATION AGREEMENT: CANDU
- *EU ACCORD NEEDED ON UKRAINE, TRANSNISTRIA TENSIONS: MOLDOVA
Signing accord may be expedited because of situation in Transnistria, Crimea, Andrian Candu, Moldova parliament’s vice president, says in Bucharest.
- Accord was expected to be signed by end-Aug.: Candu
- Romanian Foreign Minister Titus Corlatean asked EU’s foreign affairs council yday to speed up signing of Moldova’s association agreement
- Transnistria is Moldova’s secessionist region that borders Ukraine and has Russian military presence
And the Moldovan President believes it would be an "erroneous step":
Transdniestria's accession to Russia would be "an erroneous step," Moldovan President Nicolae Timofti said at a press conference in Chisinau on Tuesday."I've been informed that the speaker of the Tiraspol parliament has addressed Moscow on the matter. Such actions are counterproductive, and they would not favor either the Republic of Moldova or the Russian Federation. If Russia resorted to such a step, this would be an erroneous decision and would not improve Russia's authority on the international arena," Timofti said.Timofti admitted that "there is a lot in common" between the situation in Ukraine and the events in Crimea and Transdniestria.
So to summarise - The EU is seeking a "close" association with Moldova and is attempting to speed up this process and a region of mostly-Russian-ethnicity (with 97% wishing to accede) is demanding that Russia draft a law allowing them to join Russia...
Ring any bells?
( Does a super power seek promises not to attack from an adversary ? )
Hagel voiced concern about Russian military movements but Shoigu assured him that "the troops he has arrayed along the border are there to conduct exercises only and they have no intention of crossing the border into Ukraine and that they would take no aggressive action," Pentagon spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby told reporters.
The US defense secretary also asked how long the military "exercise" would last but Shoigu "didn't have a firm time frame for that," Kirby said.
Shoigu had pledged that Russia would not send troops into Ukraine's east and Hagel's "expectation is that he'll live up to those words," he said.
Washington has watched a Russian build-up on Ukraine's eastern border with growing dismay after Moscow's military intervention in Crimea.
Moscow's promise to Washington came as Ukraine warned it would respond with military action if Russia tries to seize the country's mainly Russian-speaking eastern regions.