Russian ambassador: We’re making it easier for Latvian ethnic Russians to get citizenship

posted at 12:01 pm on March 10, 2014 by Ed Morrissey

Last week, I warned that the next step for Russia after seizing the Crimea over the status of ethnic Russians would take place in the Baltic states of Estonia and Latvia. All it would take, I argued, would be for Moscow to foment unrest in those ethnic-Russian communities, antagonize the governments in both states, and then insist that Russia had to intervene to protect them. More than a quarter of the population in both countries consist of ethnic Russians, while in Ukraine it only came to 18%.

Now it looks like Moscow will skip over the unrest pretext and demand the right to act as economic protector  in Latvia:

Russian Ambassador Aleksandr Veshnyakov created a new wave of concern in Latvia with recent remarks saying it may soon become easier for ethnic Russians in Latvia to obtain Russian citizenship.

Mr. Veshnyakov told Latvian Radio 4, a Russian-language public broadcasting channel, that proposed legislation in Russia would allow granting Russian citizenship to ethnic Russians in Latvia to “save the Latvian noncitizens out of poverty by giving them citizenship and a pension without having to stay in Russia.” Russians constitute 27.6% of Latvia’s population of 2 million, the largest ethnic group among the minorities living in Latvia.

The comments come as many in the three Baltic nations—part of the former Soviet Union—have expressed fears about being the target of possible Russian expansionism. Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia—all members of NATO and the European Union—have been working to forge economic ties with Europe by joining the euro zone while also scrambling to lessen dependence on Russian energy.

Russia has justified its moves in Ukraine as a defense of ethnic Russians and Russian speakers. Moscow has complained about Latvia’s alleged mistreatment of ethnic Russians there.

Using income inequality to muscle governments? Inconceivable! In the case of Latvia, though, the issue isn’t ethnic-Russian poverty but the expression of Russian imperialism that drove Vladimir Putin’s seizure of Crimea, after his puppet Viktor Yanukovich had to flee for his life.

This attempt to destabilize Latvia by making a quarter of its population Russian citizens gives away Putin’s game. It also serves as a direct affront to NATO and the West. Ukraine never did join NATO, but Latvia formally joined in 2004, as did its Baltic neighbors Lithuania and Estonia. Lithuania has a minimal ethnic-Russian population — less than 7% of its population — but Estonia’s population is 25% ethnic Russian. It’s no small wonder that all three nations are now “jittery” over an “unpredictable” Russia:

Standing in the shadow of a massive, grey former KGB building in a busy Vilnius street, Lithuanian pensioner Rimantas Gucas worries history could repeat itself if the West fails to stop Russia from absorbing Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula.

As Lithuania marks 24 years since it broke free from the crumbling Soviet Union and a decade since it joined NATO, people here and in fellow Baltic states Estonia and Latvia are jittery over Russian moves in Crimea.

So far, they’re relying on NATO:

Vilnius University analyst Kestutis Girnius is, however, more circumspect about the threat posed by Moscow. He said EU and NATO membership make the Crimea scenario highly improbable in the Baltic states.

“Since NATO would lose all credibility if it failed to defend them, it has an overriding motive to come to their defence. Russia knows this, and thus will avoid tempting fate,” he told AFP.

At least one might have thought this, until Veshnyakov pledged to make Russian citizenship available for ethnic minorities. That’s a clear signal that Russia intends to interfere in the Baltic states to a much larger degree than before, which is already a challenge to NATO.

Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments VP Jim Thomas argues that NATO needs to respond in a manner that Putin will understand — by moving nuclear forces into the Baltics:

First, NATO should reconsider its so-called Three Nos from the 1997 NATO-Russia Founding Act. The Three Nos were shorthand for the NATO allies’ joint declaration that they had “no intentions, no plans, and no reason” to station nonstrategic nuclear forces in new member states. But NATO left the door open to future deployments if front-line allies were threatened. While NATO still lacks the intention and plans to station nuclear forces in new member states, such as Poland, it now has more than sufficient reason to do so.

A preliminary step should be making the Polish air force’s F-16s capable of carrying both conventional and nuclear weapons so that they could participate in NATO’s nuclear mission. That should quickly be followed by site surveys to identify suitable locations for potentially storing nuclear weapons on the territory of front-line allies, including Poland, if relations with Russia further deteriorate.

Second, NATO should reinforce its front-line allies with additional conventional force deployments. The time has come for the U.S. and other NATO allies to consider permanently stationing forces in Poland and Romania as well as the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania to back up their words of strategic solidarity. Their mission should be defensively oriented, establishing what military strategists call “anti-access, area denial” zones. (This might include missile defenses to protect major bases in those countries along with anti-air, anti-armor and anti-ship weapons to counter air, land or naval incursions.

Taking these steps in the Baltic states would reduce Russia’s temptation to encroach on their sovereignty in the name of “protecting ethnic Russian populations,” a pretext it has used in Ukraine. It would also preclude Russia’s option of a quick, Crimea-like operation to establish a fait accompli on the ground before NATO can decide to act.

That might be a bigger provocation than the US and its NATO allies really want at this stage. However, moving larger ground forces into the Baltics and returning the missile-defense shield to Poland and the Czech Republic will make a big enough impression in Moscow to give Putin at least some pause. Right now, he’s not even bothering with creating pretexts of unrest to force Russian hegemony onto current Western allies — and if we don’t react to it, we may find those allies rethinking their alliances and looking for better deals.


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Putin won’t stop until he reassembles the USSR…

OmahaConservative on March 10, 2014 at 12:04 PM

Love weakness – aren’t we all glad that Obama is unwinding the Gipper’s win over communism.

Well done.

Zomcon JEM on March 10, 2014 at 12:04 PM

In Latvia, we bring Russia to you!

Socratease on March 10, 2014 at 12:05 PM

“returning the missile-defense shield to Poland and the Czech Republic”

which shuld never have left in the first place
/grrrrrrrr

ABreitbart on March 10, 2014 at 12:07 PM

@ Zomcon

indeed — all it took wuz 20 yrs. — sad, really …

ABreitbart on March 10, 2014 at 12:07 PM

McCain was correct, Putin’s eyes spell KGB and he so desperately wants to reestablish the Soviet Union. First Georgia, Ukraine.

Up next: Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia.

Obama’s response: Vacation.

nazo311 on March 10, 2014 at 12:09 PM

NATO wouldn’t respond meaningfully. Economics! Plus, Putin doesn’t have to invade, just co-opt the governments and install his puppets. He knows enviormentalists in the U.S. are dictating strength of foreign policy leverage for us. As long as the Senate donks are willing to pull all nighters bloviating about climate change, Putin knows he’s protected against fossil fuel market competition.

butch on March 10, 2014 at 12:14 PM

We here at Hot Air, are making it easier for those whose politics we accept, to post by removing non threatening posts from the thread shortly after they are posted. This is in keeping with our policy of paying scant attention to our new posters and feeling more secure in our comfortable censor shoes. This way we can feign an allegiance to the first amendment and robust debate. We do not wish to foment unrest or antagonize our new posters so we insist we have to intervene to protect them from themselves .. oh and ignore their complaints about their posts disappearing. Sheesh Maybe it’s time for new blood.

GKChesterton99 on March 10, 2014 at 12:15 PM

Look a shiny object! So he diverts attention to Latvia while he consolidates his gains in Crimea.

Kaffa on March 10, 2014 at 12:17 PM

Let’s try a counter-proposal. Offer American citizenship to all Cubans!

Walter L. Newton on March 10, 2014 at 12:17 PM

Latvia should pass a law which treats obtaining a Russian passport as an act renunciating citizenship, disqualifying them from any show plebicites that take place to ratify a Russian invasion.

blammm on March 10, 2014 at 12:18 PM

However, moving larger ground forces into the Baltics and returning the missile-defense shield to Poland and the Czech Republic will make a big enough impression in Moscow to give Putin at least some pause.

That sounds like 19th century behavior to me.

I’m afraid all we’ll get is more whining John Kerry diplomacy, threats of sanctions and a speech by Obama.

Curtiss on March 10, 2014 at 12:18 PM

And once again that rumbling sound is Russian tanks starting up and rolling west…

Issuing passports to the citizens of another country is a clear violation of sovereignty.

Putin has 3 years to reassemble the USSR with a weak, passive, and unengaged leader in DC. And he’s going to use them.

ConstantineXI on March 10, 2014 at 12:18 PM

Smartpower!

Quite stupid, actually.

rbj on March 10, 2014 at 12:19 PM

Putin is not a stupid man, and he’s starting to realize that while he can probably depend on Obama, his academically-blinded “brain” trust, and his corrupt (or, in the case of the House, comically timid) Congress to stumble from failure to failure, this perfect storm of American self-delusion and self-destruction is not open-ended.

JEM on March 10, 2014 at 12:19 PM

Putin won’t stop until he reassembles the USSR…

OmahaConservative on March 10, 2014 at 12:04 PM

Exactly.

Of course, there’s the danger the west could stop him with full bore capitalism, Mother Gaia forbid!

Fenris on March 10, 2014 at 12:19 PM

GKChesterton99 on March 10, 2014 at 12:15 PM

Might be the filters. No one has yet figured out any pattern for how those filters are set. There are certain words and links that cancel you out….you just have to guess which ones. (Glad I could help:)

butch on March 10, 2014 at 12:20 PM

NATO wouldn’t respond meaningfully. Economics! Plus, Putin doesn’t have to invade, just co-opt the governments and install his puppets. He knows enviormentalists in the U.S. are dictating strength of foreign policy leverage for us. As long as the Senate donks are willing to pull all nighters bloviating about climate change, Putin knows he’s protected against fossil fuel market competition.

butch on March 10, 2014 at 12:14 PM

NATO won’t do a damn thing except send Strongly Worded Letters.

ConstantineXI on March 10, 2014 at 12:21 PM

No worries! We’ve got “Smart Power!”

And King Barack will go on another vacation and play another round of golf.

He’s “flexible”.

GarandFan on March 10, 2014 at 12:21 PM

Obama is making Jimma look awesome.

Cindy Munford on March 10, 2014 at 12:21 PM

Obama is making Jimma look awesome.

Cindy Munford on March 10, 2014 at 12:21 PM

He’s showing that old “creepy ass crackah” how an ineffectual administration is REALLY done.

ConstantineXI on March 10, 2014 at 12:23 PM

I’m afraid all we’ll get is more whining John Kerry diplomacy, threats of sanctions and a speech by Obama.

Curtiss on March 10, 2014 at 12:18 PM

When do you think obaka will take to the prime time airwaves to make a show speech…

ladyingray on March 10, 2014 at 12:23 PM

This attempt to destabilize Latvia by making a quarter of its population Russian citizens gives away Putin’s game. It also serves as a direct affront to NATO and the West.

I don’t see where you get this, at all. Russia, most certainly has every right to grant citizenship to Russians abroad. Like it or not, most nations were founded on ethnic bases and continue to serve them, as they should. What problem do you have with Russia extending Russian citizenship to ethnic Russians who ask for it??

WTFF?

ThePrimordialOrderedPair on March 10, 2014 at 12:24 PM

GKChesterton99 on March 10, 2014 at 12:15 PM

Hot Air seems to be experiencing some technical difficulties. On one thread I answered someone’s question before they asked. Don’t take it personally. If you do think that you may have used a word that might not have made it through the filter, and it isn’t obscene, re-post it using some Hooked on Phonics spelling for that word.

Cindy Munford on March 10, 2014 at 12:24 PM

That sounds like 19th century behavior to me.

I’m afraid all we’ll get is more whining John Kerry diplomacy, threats of sanctions and a speech by Obama.

Curtiss on March 10, 2014 at 12:18 PM

When John Kerry says Russia is there to help stave off economic collapse, it doesn’t sound like whining to me. He sounds like an apologist.

Fenris on March 10, 2014 at 12:25 PM

GKChesterton99 on March 10, 2014 at 12:15 PM

Cindy Munford on March 10, 2014 at 12:24 PM

We here who are actually at Hot Air aren’t removing comments at all. I just checked the trash folder and we haven’t deleted anything at all today.

If you are experiencing a specific problem, then drop us an e-mail on the tips line. Otherwise, feed your paranoia elsewhere.

Ed Morrissey on March 10, 2014 at 12:28 PM

ThePrimordialOrderedPair on March 10, 2014 at 12:24 PM

Might have to do with future elections. I have heard some political corruption just might exist in that part of the world. After the last 6 years, I’m getting better at recognizing how it works.

butch on March 10, 2014 at 12:29 PM

When do you think obaka will take to the prime time airwaves to make a show speech…

ladyingray on March 10, 2014 at 12:23 PM

As soon as the Russian flag is flying in Latvia and Estonia and right after the Rush Limbaugh show has aired on that day.

Curtiss on March 10, 2014 at 12:31 PM

We here who are actually at Hot Air aren’t removing comments at all. I just checked the trash folder and we haven’t deleted anything at all today.

Ed Morrissey on March 10, 2014 at 12:28 PM

There are all kinds of weird glitches here lately…

OmahaConservative on March 10, 2014 at 12:31 PM

…so much Smart Power….destroying decades of work!

KOOLAID2 on March 10, 2014 at 12:31 PM

butch on March 10, 2014 at 12:20 PM

GKChesterton99 on March 10, 2014 at 12:15 PM

Cindy Munford on March 10, 2014 at 12:24 PM

We here who are actually at Hot Air aren’t removing comments at all. I just checked the trash folder and we haven’t deleted anything at all today.

Ed Morrissey on March 10, 2014 at 12:28 PM

Tks for the feedback .. feel better .. just frustrating writing a good, clean post and having it disappear .. time and again .. and this is after seeing it posted for a short while .. how else am I gonna share my brilliance with everybody (hehehe)

GKChesterton99 on March 10, 2014 at 12:32 PM

I wonder if Barry has considered unilaterally disposing of all our nuclear arms in return for Putin’s promise to not invade the Baltic states. Why not kick it over to Samantha Powers and see what she thinks?

butch on March 10, 2014 at 12:35 PM

Latvia should pass a law which treats obtaining a Russian passport as an act renunciating citizenship, disqualifying them from any show plebicites that take place to ratify a Russian invasion.

blammm on March 10, 2014 at 12:18 PM

They aren’t citizens.

They are legally noncitizens.

400,000 are…

Individuals who were citizens of Latvia as of 17 June 1940, prior to Soviet occupation, were once again recognized as citizens, along with their descendants. The law also grants citizenship to all permanent residents of Latvia, who do not hold another citizenship and are either Latvians or Livonians, or individuals (along with their children up to age 15), who have completed universal primary or secondary education with Latvian as the language of instruction.[20] That effectively limited non-citizen status to largely Russophones arriving during the Soviet era. Notably this included some of those that had elected the parliament in question.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/8630304.stm

What is it like being a non-citizen in the country where you have lived all your life? That’s the experience of many ethnic Russians in the Baltic state of Latvia.

sharrukin on March 10, 2014 at 12:37 PM

Might have to do with future elections. I have heard some political corruption just might exist in that part of the world. After the last 6 years, I’m getting better at recognizing how it works.

butch on March 10, 2014 at 12:29 PM

But what does any of that have to do with the fact that Russia has every natural right to give ethnic Russians Russian citizenship, if they want. First of all, this is a basic, natural right of a sovereign nation to grant citizenship to those it pleases (unlike our demented nation that thinks it’s cool to have aliens decide if they should have our citizenship and then steal it by breaking our laws and invading our territory). It’s also a basic fact of the world that most nations were built on ethnic foundations (just look at the names of most countries) and are still the “home base” for those ethnicities.

As to elections and corruption, Russia giving Russian citizenship has nothing to do with Latvian elections, unless Latvia requires that Latvians not be dual citizens, in which case those ethnic Russians who want Russian citizenship would have to decide if they wanted to stay in Latvia as Latvians or pick up and move back home. That, of course, is up to Latvia.

In all, though, I don’t see the problem that some are claiming this move is. It certainly is a legitimate and reasonable action – no matter the possible intent behind it. But, how can someone argue against one nation deciding how it is going to issue citizenships?? As I’ve said, this country has that whole issue upside down, to begin with.

ThePrimordialOrderedPair on March 10, 2014 at 12:38 PM

sharrukin on March 10, 2014 at 12:37 PM

Thanks for the info. I wish I saw it before I posted :)

ThePrimordialOrderedPair on March 10, 2014 at 12:40 PM

and this is after seeing it posted for a short while

GKChesterton99 on March 10, 2014 at 12:32 PM

. . . can’t figure out what you are describing. As far as I know, that doesn’t happen. It’s not one of the glitches. It has to in the “misunderstanding” bucket somehow, but . . .

I just checked the trash folder and we haven’t deleted anything at all today.

Ed Morrissey on March 10, 2014 at 12:28 PM

Not just anyone would do that, you know. I walked right by that comment. Appreciate you, Morrissey, truly — all you guys. :)

Some people don’t know what they got till it’s gone.

Axe on March 10, 2014 at 12:40 PM

Yes, Putin can…because obama is a can.

Schadenfreude on March 10, 2014 at 12:44 PM

What is it like being a non-citizen in the country where you have lived all your life? That’s the experience of many ethnic Russians in the Baltic state of Latvia.

sharrukin on March 10, 2014 at 12:37 PM

And why were ethnic Russians living in the Baltics? Because Moscow wanted to cow the local ethnic populations by resettling Russians smack dab in the middle of their countries. If the Russians don’t like it, they can get the hell out of nations that didn’t ask them to stay.

Happy Nomad on March 10, 2014 at 12:44 PM

NATO expansion was one the dumbest foreign policy moves of the last 50 years. NATO should have been dissolved along with the Warsaw Pact.

After the USSR disintegrated, and Russia’s economy and military collapsed, NATO spent 15 years kicking Russia while they were down- expanding right up to their border and bombing Serbia to create an independent Kosovo (yet Ukraine’s “territorial integrity” is sacred. And now we’re surprised that when they aren’t weak anymore, and we encourage a violent coup against a democratically elected, pro-Russian government next door, they don’t meekly accept it?

Jon0815 on March 10, 2014 at 12:44 PM

What is it like being a non-citizen in the country where you have lived all your life? That’s the experience of many ethnic Russians in the Baltic state of Latvia.

sharrukin on March 10, 2014 at 12:37 PM

They could just go back to Russia if they don’t like their status as “resident aliens”. Nothing wrong with Latvia’s laws on this.

ThePrimordialOrderedPair on March 10, 2014 at 12:45 PM

Thanks for the info. I wish I saw it before I posted :)

ThePrimordialOrderedPair on March 10, 2014 at 12:40 PM

Not a problem. Its an odd situation in Latvia, but a large part of the population there are not citzens of the country they were born in.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Non-citizens_%28Latvia%29

sharrukin on March 10, 2014 at 12:45 PM

What is it like being a non-citizen in the country where you have lived all your life? That’s the experience of many ethnic Russians in the Baltic state of Latvia.

sharrukin on March 10, 2014 at 12:37 PM

It wouldn’t address the motivation, though.

Axe on March 10, 2014 at 12:45 PM

It wouldn’t address the motivation, though.

Axe on March 10, 2014 at 12:45 PM

Not sure I follow?

Who’s motivation for what?

sharrukin on March 10, 2014 at 12:47 PM

There are all kinds of weird glitches here lately…OmahaConservative on March 10, 2014 at 12:31 PM

Apparently our NSA overlords didn’t appreciate the “special brownies” MKH baked for them on Valentines Day.

pookysgirl on March 10, 2014 at 12:48 PM

As to elections and corruption, Russia giving Russian citizenship has nothing to do with Latvian elections, unless Latvia requires that Latvians not be dual citizens, in which case those ethnic Russians who want Russian citizenship would have to decide if they wanted to stay in Latvia as Latvians or pick up and move back home. That, of course, is up to Latvia.

ThePrimordialOrderedPair on March 10, 2014 at 12:38 PM

This is the part I was referencing. A Latvian who desired to also be a citizen of Russia, would probably also like to have a Latvian government closely aligned with that of Russia.
Might even join and strengthen political parties to that end. I assume Putin may have some stray dollars to help the effort.

butch on March 10, 2014 at 12:49 PM

More than a quarter of the population in both countries consist of ethnic Russians, while in Ukraine it only came to 18%.

That 18% figure for Ukraine is misleading. That is the percentage for the whole country in the 2001 census thirteen years ago. The percentage in Crimea is 60%.

I assume that the populations in Latvia are similarly skewed depending on geographic location.

Kaffa on March 10, 2014 at 12:50 PM

In all, though, I don’t see the problem that some are claiming this move is

See Sudetenland, Czechoslovakia, Austria, 1936-1938.

This is long-term preparation, as much of his own people as anything else.

JEM on March 10, 2014 at 12:51 PM

Who’s motivation for what?

sharrukin on March 10, 2014 at 12:47 PM

Putin’s motivation to feel less womanly naked.

The thing splits as table-talk. If Russia was working on it’s 3rd year of their celebrated Human Life Improvement Plan, it would be simpler. But they seem to be in the mood to stop feeling so small. So whether they should or shouldn’t in the abstract can’t be considered without also considering why they are doing it.

Axe on March 10, 2014 at 12:53 PM

See Sudetenland, Czechoslovakia, Austria, 1936-1938.

This is long-term preparation, as much of his own people as anything else.

JEM on March 10, 2014 at 12:51 PM

That didn’t merely involve citizenship but territorial invasion. Different thing.

Are you saying, though, that you think anyone has the “right” to tell Russia who they can and can’t extend Russian citizenship to? What reason would you offer to “not allow” Russia to make ethnic Russians citizens of Russia?

There is a big difference between granting citizenships and territorial invasions of others.

ThePrimordialOrderedPair on March 10, 2014 at 12:58 PM

But they seem to be in the mood to stop feeling so small. So whether they should or shouldn’t in the abstract can’t be considered without also considering why they are doing it.

Axe on March 10, 2014 at 12:53 PM

That’s a good point. This may just be using the current situation to apply some more pressure on Latvia about the noncitizen issue. Basically rattleing the Latvian cage on an issue by using the current Ukrainian unrest as fodder.

This agreement seems to suggest that the pension issue has been dealt with.

http://www.vsaa.lv/en/services/intergovernmental-agreements/implementation-agreement-between-republic-latvia-and-russian-fed

I wonder if a Noncitizen in Latvia is allowed to have a Latvian pension?

sharrukin on March 10, 2014 at 1:00 PM

You know, what if Putin said, “Screw it” and just sent the tanks west, with orders not to stop until they hit ocean?

I mean, Patton was sitting there in the way of Stalin’s tanks, and certainly Stalin was afraid of him. Who would stop Putin now?

Poland would try. But if Poland fell, would the Germans and the French? Maaaaaybe the Germans could summon the spirit of Rommel and Guderain, but I doubt it. And all the Russians have to do is stop for a day in Dusseldörf and paint their tanks with a german cross–the French would fall all over themselves to surrender again. I mean, if Putin pledged that as long as US troops stayed in the barracks, he wouldn’t attack… wouldn’t Bammy not fight?

And even if Obama DID decide to fight… he strikes me as the Adolf type–I know how to fight a war better than my generals! We’d have Stalingrad all over again, with our troops playing the role of Field Marshal Paulus.

Isn’t this the best time for Putin to try that historic Russian idea of overrunning europe?

Vanceone on March 10, 2014 at 1:03 PM

Vanceone on March 10, 2014 at 1:03 PM

Putin’s version of community organizing?

butch on March 10, 2014 at 1:12 PM

Can we recognize that these events have nothing to do with national sovereignty, and everything to do with ethnic purity and preservation?

As do many events that happen in these parts of the world, including the ME.

Lance Corvette on March 10, 2014 at 1:14 PM

I wonder if a Noncitizen in Latvia is allowed to have a Latvian pension?

sharrukin on March 10, 2014 at 1:00 PM

. . . I’m going to be so disappointed if this is just about money. Again.

Axe on March 10, 2014 at 1:14 PM

Somehow when inept and clueless progressives are president there is always a big war to get us out of the entirely predictable horrendous results of progressive economics.

“Of the four wars in my lifetime, none came about because the U.S. was too strong.”
Ronald Reagan

As to Putin driving to the Atlantic, the Germans don’t have ammunition or trucks to move personnel or weapons. The French, well they are the French and there will be lots of never fired dropped once rifles available.

jukin3 on March 10, 2014 at 1:19 PM

Putin has at least 3 years to reassemble the USSR with a weak, passive, and unengaged leader in DC. And he’s going to use them.

ConstantineXI on March 10, 2014 at 12:18 PM

Fixed that for you. Putin, being shrewd, isn’t about to rely on the stupidity of the American public to continue to bless him with feckless foreign policy.

I am, however, less than sanguine about what the American public will have learned by 2016. My bet is that the majority will think it was just unfair for Obama and the Democrats to be judged by all these bad things that happened on their watch. They were just unlucky and Hillary (or Cuomo, or whatever other hack the Dems nominate) deserves a chance to see if they can have some better luck.

makattak on March 10, 2014 at 1:20 PM

. . . I’m going to be so disappointed if this is just about money. Again.

Axe on March 10, 2014 at 1:14 PM

That might be all this is, but I do wonder at the timing.

http://rt.com/news/strasbourg-latvia-discriminates-against-russian-pensioners/

The European Court on Human Rights has ruled that Latvian pension law discriminates against people who worked outside the republic during Soviet times.

The precedent was set in the case of Natalya Andreyeva, who is a non-citizen resident of the Baltic nation. She was born in Latvia and worked for 17 years at a military plant in the city of Olaine near the capital, Riga, until Lativa declared independence in 1991.

When she retired due to her age in 1997, the authorities refused to take into account the time she worked in Olaine when calculating her state pension, because the plant was accountable to Moscow headquarters directly.

So she wouldn’t get a pension and that puts Russia on the hook if she leaves Latvia and goes to Russia where she could get a pension.

sharrukin on March 10, 2014 at 1:21 PM

That didn’t merely involve citizenship but territorial invasion. Different thing.

Are you saying, though, that you think anyone has the “right” to tell Russia who they can and can’t extend Russian citizenship to? What reason would you offer to “not allow” Russia to make ethnic Russians citizens of Russia?

There is a big difference between granting citizenships and territorial invasions of others.

ThePrimordialOrderedPair on March 10, 2014 at 12:58 PM

Your point is foolish and short-sighted.

This offer is happening in the context of Russia invading and annexing a portion of another county.

This isn’t India making an offer of citizenship to any Canadian who wishes to have it.

makattak on March 10, 2014 at 1:22 PM

Another part of Tom Clancy’s last book, “Command Authority,” coming true.

rlwo2008 on March 10, 2014 at 1:43 PM

There is a big difference between granting citizenships and territorial invasions of others.

You’re not thinking the long game. Vlad the Invader is.

Look, I have endless respect for the guy in certain narrow ways. He thinks of his country’s interests. Everything he says and does can be interpreted in terms of his country’s national interests. And when we’ve got utter dunderheads like Kerry prattling on about nonsensical garbage like climate change, to the vast detriment of US interests, it’s refreshing to see a leader – be he a somewhat-corrupt, sometimes-vicious, autocrat – who actually believes in his country in a way our current leadership certainly does NOT.

To come back to your point, thouugh: right now, as far as the citizens of Russian think, those ethnically-Russian Latvians may not be quite Russian enough to justify their blood and treasure. His goal is to make his people, his workers who pay taxes, his families of Russian soldiers, the people who’ll march in the streets – think of the Latvian-resident Russians as their neighbors who need to be rescued from the predatory West.

And if things go on as they are, he’ll succeed in spades.

JEM on March 10, 2014 at 1:47 PM

Looks like another Ukrainian military officer has switched sides and may be taking his battalion with him.

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2014-03-10/ukraine-lieutenant-colonel-charge-crimea-unit-defects-russia-takes-soldiers-him

Ukraine Defense Ministry reports (via Facebook):

*UKRAINE LIEUTENANT COLONEL DEFECTS TO RUSSIAN FORCES: MINISTRY
*UKRAINE OFFICER IN CHARGE OF CRIMEA UNIT DEFECTS: UKR MINISTRY
*OFFICER CONVINCES ‘SEVERAL’ SOLDIERS TO DEFECT: DEF MINISTRY

Ukrainian Lt. Colonel Volodymyr Sadovnyk, who was missing earlier today, comes back to his motorized battalion in Crimea’s town of Bakhchisaray to announce he’s defected, Ukrainian Defense Ministry spokesman for Crimea Vladislav Seleznev says.

Seleznev comments on Facebook

Defecting officer Sadovnyk was accompanied by armed men from self-proclaimed Crimean self defense, who fired shot in air and stormed battalion: statement

Sadovnyk asks those who don’t want to defect to leave battalion; Russian flag was raised: statement

sharrukin on March 10, 2014 at 1:53 PM

Let me put it another way: if you informed Vladimir Putin and Kim-whatever-the-Chivas-drinker down in the Frozen Tundra of the PDRK that we were going to nuke their country TOMORROW and there wasn’t a damn thing they could do about it, but we had cheateaux on the French Riviera waiting for them if they wanted to get out in the next hour – I’d bet when push came to shove chubby Kim would spend the rest of his life surrounded in siliconed French whores while Vladimir would go down with his people and do whatever he could in response.

He’s not a good man, but he sees his place in history.

JEM on March 10, 2014 at 1:53 PM

So she wouldn’t get a pension and that puts Russia on the hook if she leaves Latvia and goes to Russia where she could get a pension.

sharrukin on March 10, 2014 at 1:21 PM

Russia might want her right where she is . . .

I’m not going to be able to keep up with you on this; I don’t have enough foundation. I know I’m not against citizenship. I know the bones of a dead empire actually, ultimately getting away with the whole mass relocating, seeding thing bugs me — if that’s what’s happening. I know I want people to get their retirement :) I dunno much else, here.

I suppose I could pretend.

Axe on March 10, 2014 at 1:53 PM

Isn’t this the best time for Putin to try that historic Russian idea of overrunning europe?

Thankfully, the threat of Russian tanks rolling west is not a viable option.

History is not on Russia’s side in that idea anyway. They enjoy a long history of being soundly defeated on the battlefield.

Sure, her geography and climate have helped to defeat overextended invading armies. Tactical retreats are part of the Russian history, and overrunning weaker nations, as Stalin did before he decided to advance on Berlin at the end of WWII.

Maybe Putin is too far gone to realize that, maybe the military leadership actually believes the myth of the prowess or strength of the Russian/Soviet army through the years.

Still, that doesn’t help Georgia, the Ukraine and Latvia – and whichever country is next.

And it is precisely the weakness shown over the years by the current TOTUS and the NATO nations that is enabling Putin.

reaganaut on March 10, 2014 at 1:58 PM

This is 1939 all over again. The only difference is, Putin is not pepared for a global war. I guess he feels he doesn’t have to be since he has nuclear weapons. But Hitler didn’t think the west would come to the aid of Poland since he saw them dither and retreat over Czechoslovakia, so Putin may go for broke and go after the Baltic states after seeing that we did nothing over Ukraine. This is a dangerous time we are facing, my friends.

So are we willing to risk nuclear war over Latvia? If not, then there really is no point for NATO being there anymore.

Libertyship46 on March 10, 2014 at 2:07 PM

This is 1939 all over again. The only difference is, Putin is not pepared for a global war. I guess he feels he doesn’t have to be since he has nuclear weapons. But Hitler didn’t think the west would come to the aid of Poland since he saw them dither and retreat over Czechoslovakia, so Putin may go for broke and go after the Baltic states after seeing that we did nothing over Ukraine. This is a dangerous time we are facing, my friends.

So are we willing to risk nuclear war over Latvia? If not, then there really is no point for NATO being there anymore. I think the Europeans have already come to this conclusion, given that they have given up fighting over anything.

Libertyship46 on March 10, 2014 at 2:10 PM

History is not on Russia’s side in that idea anyway. They enjoy a long history of being soundly defeated on the battlefield.

So does France, Germany, Poland, Italy, Spain, and every other European state.

Sure, her geography and climate have helped to defeat overextended invading armies. Tactical retreats are part of the Russian history, and overrunning weaker nations, as Stalin did before he decided to advance on Berlin at the end of WWII.

Hitler’s Germany wasn’t a pushover and the allies had a tough fight on their hands even after years of softening up Germany with bomber raids and blockades. Poland, Norway, Belgium, the Netherlands all fell. France and Britain were defeated on the battlefield and most of eastern Europe was conquered. Russia came next and that war lasted for four years and in the west most of that time was spent building up our forces while Russia fought the bulk of the German armies.

As far as time spent in the ring they paid their dues.

And it is precisely the weakness shown over the years by the current TOTUS and the NATO nations that is enabling Putin.

reaganaut on March 10, 2014 at 1:58 PM

It isn’t just weakness, but an inability on the part of many to think realistically about what they want and what they can reasonably do. Giving NATO membership is pointless if you don’t have the will to defend those members, or the military force to accomplish the task if you were in fact willing.

There are limits to power regardless of who you are and both Iraq and Afghanistan are examples of that.

What are the strategic interests of the US in the Ukraine? What are Europe’s interest there? It nice that the protesters say they want to be free, but sentimentality isn’t a foreign policy, nor does it pay the gas bill.

sharrukin on March 10, 2014 at 2:13 PM

They enjoy a long history of being soundly defeated on the battlefield.

You’re referring to the Russians?

Czar Alexander I might quibble with you on that one.

True, the rest of the 19th century was not so kind, and the Russo-Japanese War birthed the changes that grew to maturity following the failures of 1915.

The new regime spent most of its first two decades exterminating its own, and learned little enough beating the Japanese and fighting the Finns to a draw in 1939 that they still got kicked most of the way to Moscow by the Germans in 1941.

That said, by 1945 they’d learned enough militarily and industrially that, absent Our Friend The Atom, they could have pushed us back to the Marne had we elected to contest their hold on Eastern Europe. It would have been doubly embarrassing that those Russian troops would have been riding on Studebaker trucks.

They got their butts kicked in Afghanistan (the cynic in me wants to say “maybe a bit worse than we did”) but when it comes to home territory they’re tenacious and we underrate them vastly at our peril.

JEM on March 10, 2014 at 2:17 PM

I’m still not seeing who will stop Vlad if Obama dithers. The Polish would fight hard, but would it be enough? I don’t think the Germans or French could stop them, unless the French brought out the Nukes. And let’s be serious–the current French President is a commie anyway, why would he fight the Russians, especially if Vlad gave him some sort of “Vichy” role?

The Norwegians and Brits might. Sure, the mighty Soviet hordes are no more… but there aren’t very many German tanks to stand in the way either.

Like it or not, our military force in Europe is the continent’s most powerful army. And with Obama in charge….. it’s probably off the table. And that leaves Russia free to do whatever they want. Right? Seriously, if Vlad decides to go for Ukraine as a tune up for his forces, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the “Russian Federation” flag raised in Paris within a few months after.

Vanceone on March 10, 2014 at 2:25 PM

If NATO was intent on protecting the Baltic states of Latvia, Estonia, and Lithuania, it would be much easier than trying to protect the Crimean area of Ukraine.

Russia already had territory on the east coast of the Black Sea, and maintained the naval base at Sevastopol, so it was difficult for NATO forces to contest the Black Sea with Russia.

But with the Baltic states (as well as Norway, Sweden, and Finland) all members of NATO, any aggression by Russia could be met by a naval occupation of the Baltic Sea, which would essentially block Russian access to the Baltic via the port of Saint Petersburg. The naval occupation could be used to station defensive troops along the eastern borders of Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia, and in the event of Russian aggression, to blockade Saint Petersburg. And if Russian minorities in Latvia want Russian citizenship, let them move to Saint Petersburg.

Steve Z on March 10, 2014 at 2:59 PM

but when it comes to home territory they’re tenacious and we underrate them vastly at our peril.

That’s the key and that wasn’t about invading Russia as that is a whole other issue.

My remarks were about Russia rolling west, which is not in their history, and yes they are tenacious on defense, but it still didn’t stop them from being defeated tactically from Smolensk to even Borodino, at Mukden, in WWI, vs. the Finns, and the entirety of Barbarosa until the madman in Berlin set the stage for the 6th Army to be destroyed…

As for what would have happened in ’45 vs. the Soviets, that’s a whole other discussion, but pushing back an overextended German Army, would be quite different than pushing back the Allied forces, especially as lend lease ceased. Still, I’m thankful that never happened as the world would be a very different place. My mother was born in 1946 because my grandfather was able to come home in 1945. The losses on both sides would have been horrific.

reaganaut on March 10, 2014 at 3:42 PM

After the end of Soviet occupation Estonia and Latvia simply resumed life as it was prior to occupation and thus everyone who were citizens based on the laws prior to occupation continued as citizens. Immigrants (the vast majority of Russian speaking minorities in both countries are first or second generation immigrants) had to apply for citizenship like pretty much in any country in the world. Many did and got citizenship, many didn’t.

The only benefit of citizenship is the right to vote in parliamentary elections. Something many immigrants don’t care about all that much as they don’t know about local politics or politicians. They are more interested in voting in Russian elections. In Estonia citizenship means compulsory military service, which many Russian speaking youths would rather avoid. Getting citizenship involves tests about basic knowledge about constitution and language.

The talk of issuing Russian citizenship now is BS. Russians here have always had this possibility and about 100 000 are Russian citizens. For many this is however worse than remaining without citizenship, because then there are more restrictions to travel and less eligibility to various social programs etc. Many obtain Russian citizenship in secret so they could still use the benefits of not being citizen. Although dual citizenship is not permitted, Russia is not telling who their citizens are and thus it’s easy to hide it.

kittysaidwoof on March 10, 2014 at 4:22 PM

All good counter moves, mentioned in the article…..EXCEPT…..we have a President and European allies, who have repeatedly demonstrated that they are not up for confrontation, but instead, prefer to dither, until it’s too late.

kjatexas on March 11, 2014 at 9:57 AM

All good counter moves, mentioned in the article…..EXCEPT…..we have a President and European allies, who have repeatedly demonstrated that they are not up for confrontation, but instead, prefer to dither, until it’s too late. They will rationalize not doing those things mentioned, out of fear of provoking Putin. And Putin knows their history, and is bold enough to act, when the situation favors him.

kjatexas on March 11, 2014 at 10:15 AM