Russia is going to review whether or not it was legal for the Soviet Union to recognize the Baltic states as independent nearly 25 years ago
Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania were Soviet republics until the dissolution of the USSR back in 1991.
The Russian Prosecutor General’s office began checking the legality of the recognition of the independence of the Baltics.
The investigation was launched following requests from two lawmakers from the majority United Russia party, once headed by President Vladimir Putin, argued in their appeal to prosecutors that granting independence to Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia was illegal. The lawmakers argued that the State Council created by Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev wasn’t authorized to make such a decision.
Lithuania’s foreign minister Linas Linkevicius called the investigation an “absurd provocation,” according to the BBC.
The report also comes at a time when there’s increased tension between Russia and the Baltics.
TheLithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite said:
“Our independence was gained through the blood and sacrifice of the Lithuanian people. No one has the right to threaten it. Only we will decide our fate.”
“Such ‘initiative’ by State Duma deputies are completely unacceptable and absurd,” Latvian news agency LETA quoted the Foreign Ministry’s press secretary as saying.
“The entire issue is legally absurd,” Estonian Foreign Minister Keit Pentus-Rosimannus said to Reuters in response to an emailed question as reported by the news agency. “It serves as yet another example of the resurgent, imperialistic mood that unfortunately exists in Russia.”
The Kremlin denied on Wednesday any knowledge about the review. Speaking to reporters in Vienna, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said he knew nothing about the lawmakers’ initiative, adding that Russia has diplomatic relations and international treaties with the Baltics.
Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia have Russian-speaking minorities and were bewildered by a statement by President Putin last year in which he said that Moscow had the right to intervene militarily if necessary to protect Russian speakers abroad.
Over the last year, the Baltic states have been on high alert following the annexation of Crimea and the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. They perceive Russia’s increased militarization as a threat to their security interests (and possibly independence.)
Meanwhile, Russia hasn’t been happy that Lithuania, Estonia, and Latvia joined NATO back in 2004. And NATO’s increased presence in the Baltic states recently hasn’t pleased Moscow either.