Next week Latvia will host its biggest ever political event when 26 heads of state come to Riga to attend a NATO summit – the first to take place in a former soviet republic. In a move almost certainly intended to inflame tensions ahead of the summit the Russian foreign intelligence service, the SVR, yesterday declassified documents which appear to show that the UK and the USA approved of the Soviet occupation of the Baltic states in 1940
The editor of the dossier, Major General Lev Sotskov, told the Guardian that the documents proved that that Churchill decided it would be pragmatic not to confront soviet occupation.Moscow says its army saved the Baltic states from Nazism. The Baltic states have always bitterly argued that they were illegally occupied and then forcibly assimilated into the Soviet Union at the end of the second world war. Latvia's president, Vaira Vike-Freiberga, yesterday told the Financial Times that NATO's first summit in Riga would "remove the very last traces of the iron curtain" from the Baltic states.
The Interfax news agency puts a more anti Baltic slant on the news claiming that the USSR was justified in annexing the Baltic states in WWII, as their governments supported Nazi Germany
According to Interfax the USSR accused Estonia conspiring with Latvia and Lithuania against it, and issued an ultimatum in June 1940 , demanding among other concessions that more Soviet troops be allowed to enter the three countries. In the following month, local communists loyal to the Soviet Union won parliamentary "elections" in all three countries , and in August these parliaments asked the Soviet government for accession to the Soviet Union. As a result, the three states were formally annexed.
While I am always keen for history to be looked directly in the face, no matter how unpalatable the truth may be, all the Russians are doing here is shit stirring.
Did the UK actually support the Baltic annexations? I don’t think so but would not have been able to do much about it in any case. That may sound harsh but since they were divided by an awful lot of enemy held land and water there would have been no chance of sending any support even if it wanted to. However, in the light of the support it offered to Poland in 1929 and planned to offer to Finland not many months later it would probably have been worse than useless anyway.
Although the Red Army cleared the Nazis out of the Baltic states they installed a regime that was every bit as brutal and repressive. It is no wonder that their citizens are not well disposed towards Russia.. But to describe the Baltics to be a bunch of jackbooted thugs as Sotskov seemed to imply will not do much to improve relations.
As for communists winning parliamentary elections after invasion, I wonder how fair they were? Let me be a tad cynical and suggest that they might have been rigged (A communist rig an election? Heaven forfend!)
I hope that the NATO states treat this Russian stunt with the contempt it deserves.
Soviet occupation baltic WWII