The Russian government is laying the groundwork for a Ukrainian scenario in the Baltic states, a U.S. expert on the region has claimed.
Goble, former adviser on the Baltic states to former U.S secretary of state James Baker, said recent comments by Russia's Foreign Ministry that it would not accept an 'attack' on minority rights by Baltic officials was 'disturbing.'
"First, it represents a new ramping up of an old Moscow tactic of trying to undercut Western support for the Baltic countries all of whom are members of both the European Union and NATO by talking about their treatment of ethnic Russians and Russian speakers, a tactic that has often worked in the past," said Goble.
"Second, he explicitly linked the situation in the Baltic countries to what happened in Ukraine after the Maidan earlier this year, pointing out that Kyiv's decisions on the status of the Russian language there had "unfortunate" and "far-reaching" consequences. Moreover, such complaints about treatment of Russian speakers in Ukraine preceded the Russian invasion.
"And third, Dolgov openly encouraged ethnic Russians and Russian speakers in the Baltic states to become more active, promising that Moscow will support them. While some might be inclined to dismiss this as nothing more than a propagandistic exercise, there are unfortunately compelling reasons to think that it is more than that."
Goble's comments come after Konstantin Dolgov of Russia's Foreign Ministry said the Baltic states was violating the rights of Russian speakers in the region. He called on the international community to take action against the issue.
"The international society must block the Baltic States from further violating the rights of Russian-speaking citizens in Baltics." Dolgov said.
Goble also expressed concern about a story recently aired by Latvian State Television about residents of Latgale reporting that the Russian Embassy in Riga has been recruiting Russian speakers in Latvia, including recently released criminals, to fight for the Russian insurgents in Ukraine.
The Russian embassy in Latvia called the report 'defamatory' and a 'provocation' and has written to Latvia's Foreign Ministry over the issue.