Kremlin’s plans to influence the Baltic States published

Investigators have obtained a document developed by the Russian Presidential Administration. The document defines what Russia sees as a “threat” from the Baltic states and how it plans to counter it and spread its influence.

Photo: Karl-Erik Leik / Delfi Estonia

Journalists from a dozen publications from several European countries have received documents, apparently developed in the Presidential Administration of Russia up to two years ago, that reveal the strategy of Russian influence on the Baltic states of LithuaniaLatvia, and Estonia.

Materials about this were published by the Ukrainian edition of Kyiv Independent, Lithuanian LRT, Latvian Re:Baltica, Estonian Delfi Estonia, Swedish Expressen, Russian Dossier Center, German Norddeutscher RundfunkWestdeutscher Rundfunk and Süddeutsche Zeitung, Polish Frontstory.plVSquare from the Visegrad countries, and Yahoo News.

The analyzed Kremlin document is titled “Strategic objectives of the Russian Federation on the Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian directions”. According to the investigators, it was developed in the Department of Border Relations of the Presidential Administration of Russia with the assistance of the special services (the same department prepared a strategy for the absorption of Belarus until 2030 and interference in the politics of Moldova, analyzed and published by the same publications).

Most likely, the documents were prepared in the fall of 2021. However, according to journalists, it does not seem that the authors of these documents were aware that Russian President Vladimir Putin was preparing a full-scale war against Ukraine – there is no mention of the expected consequences of this, which could not be ignored in the plans for the Baltic states.

The strategy for each country consists of two parts. The first part describes what Russia sees as a threat to itself, and the second part describes how it plans to counteract it. All goals by area are set in terms of timeframes: 2022, 2025, and 2030.

Separate strategies have been developed for each of the three countries, but some of the key tasks coincide. These include:

  • restoring relations between Russia and the Baltic states;
  • forming a soft power network of organizations that advocate cooperation with Russia;
  • preventing the “militarization of the countries” and the creation of new NATO bases on their territory;
  • recruiting Baltic businessmen with the promise of opening the Russian market to them;
  • preservation of “common historical memory and Soviet monuments”;
  • fighting “discrimination against the Russian-speaking population” and preserving education in the Russian language.

In Estonia and Latvia, the Russian Federation relies heavily on the Russian-speaking minority to realize its goals.

In their article, the journalists cited several events of the past year that resemble elements of this strategy, particularly in the activities of local pro-Russian activists and organizations. They have been conducting campaigns to protect Soviet monuments, organizing rallies against their demolition, and preparing an appeal to the UN.

As for the “threats,” the Kremlin considered the biggest current problem in the region to be the withdrawal of countries from BRELL (the agreement on a single electricity system for Belarus, Russia, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania). For Russia, this agreement is strategically important because of the exclave of Kaliningrad.

In addition, the documents show that Russian officials feared at the time Estonia’s involvement in the development of Finno-Ugric separatism and the freezing of Russian assets in Latvia.

Much of the strategy is devoted to weakening NATO’s presence in the Baltic states.

In the obtained documents, the Kremlin expresses fears that a large NATO base will appear in Lithuania and declares its goals to prevent the deployment of medium-range air and missile defense integrated into the Alliance’s overall air defense system, as well as to reduce the presence of allied troops and combat readiness measures.

In the long run, Russia wanted to create conditions under which the Lithuanian authorities would “recognize the potential harm” to their security from NATO’s growing influence in the region and want to cooperate more deeply with Russia. These intentions are almost identical for all three Baltic states.

The most undesirable scenario for Russia is the active participation of the Baltic states in NATO activities and the increased presence of allied troops, sanctions, and curtailment of trade.

After the full-scale invasion of Ukraine by Russian troops, followed by sanctions against pro-Kremlin officials, businessmen, and journalists, it has become much more difficult to influence the Baltic states, the media outlets write. “But Russia still seeks to return to the negotiating table with the region, opposing the strengthening of its relations with the West,” the investigation concludes.

The Dossier Center promises to tell about the Kremlin’s plans developed after the invasion of Ukraine in its next publication.

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