Ukraine Crisis Stokes Baltic Nerves Over Russia

Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite, July 5, 2013The Baltics fear Russia’s military buildup over Ukraine will lead to Moscow sowing more trouble in their region after it curbed important exports last year and buzzed their borders, forcing NATO to scramble jets dozens of times.

Related Council Content

The former Soviet republics of Estonia and Latvia have their own large ethnic Russian minorities and are alarmed by President Vladimir 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.

“Thanks be to God, we are NATO members,” Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite told reporters on Monday.

Grybauskaite said she was concerned about Russian military exercises in Kalinigrad, a Russian enclave tucked between Poland, Lithuania and the Baltic sea and headquarters of Russian Baltic fleet.

“We are following the situation with (Russia’s) increased military readiness and drills at our borders,” said Grybauskaite, adding Lithuania and Poland could bring up the issue with NATO.

Image: Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite, July 5, 2013 (photo: Dzoja Gunda Barysaite/EU)