(NewsReady.com) – The southern Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland have all suffered Russian occupation under the Soviet regime. Now part of NATO, these nations sounded warnings in advance of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24, 2022. Recently, an investigative collaboration between several European and US media agencies produced leaked documents from Putin’s administration outlining a secret Russian plan to influence and coerce the southern Baltic states.
Sweden’s Expressen news outlet, Ukraine’s Kyiv Independent, Estonia’s Delfi, the UK’s Dossier Center, and US-based Yahoo News coordinated to obtain documents, which they call the Baltic Papers, created by the Russian Presidential Administration’s Directorate for Cross-Border Cooperation. In them, Putin allegedly aimed to reduce NATO’s influence and presence in the region while bolstering a stronger Russian presence by encouraging Russian culture and language.
Russia's secret plans for Baltic states exposed https://t.co/HecImaf5dn
— Newsweek (@Newsweek) April 26, 2023
Tactics outlined in the documents included coercing cooperation using both threats and rewards. For instance, the Russian Federation might offer Estonian businessmen profitable contracts, but only if they lobby the Talinn-based government to adopt a more pro-Moscow stance. Yet, documents suggest Russia is also willing to threaten Estonia with disconnection from Russia’s electric power grid, on which the small nation currently depends. All the Baltic states plan to transition to the continental EU grid by the beginning of 2026, reducing that threat.
Additionally, the documents highlight the importance of propaganda both internally within Russia and externally. For example, Putin’s press secretary Dmitry Peskov referred to the four Baltic countries in question in January by calling the EU members “extremism-inclined representatives” of that coalition, according to Newsweek. The documents also tout the preservation of Soviet monuments in the Baltic nations, crediting their existence with preventing or dissuading the rise of Naziism in the countries, reported the Baltic News Network (BNN).
One European intelligence source, speaking anonymously, told Yahoo News the plans reflected in the Baltic Papers were less about gaining actual influence in the respective countries and more of a “containment policy” hoping to prevent further diminishment of Russian influence. A different EU official conjectured the document authors seemed unaware of the impending Ukraine invasion based on the wide swing in public perception, essentially precluding any possibility of the plan’s success.
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