The invasion that Putin has just launched in Ukraine has raised fears worldwide regarding the Russian leader’s intentions, particularly in the Baltic region.
Specifically, Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia remain on edge over Russian belligerence, especially for individuals who recall living under Soviet domain during the Cold War. For many of these individuals, fears regarding mass deportations and egregious violations of human rights have mounted.
In remarks to Newsmax, Jaunius Kazlauskas recalls how his grandparents had been forcibly sent to Siberia, a brutally unforgiving region, as well as one of the coldest in the world.
“My father was persecuted by the KGB,” Kazlauskas continued, “now I live in a free democratic country, but it seems that nothing can be taken for granted.”
Prior to World War II, Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania had been annexed by Stalin, and they did not gain independence again until 1991. In 2004, all three states joined NATO in order to offset the growing influence of Russia.
All three Baltic states, along with Poland, have been the most vocal in calling for sanctions on Moscow, especially since they are acutely aware of Putin’s real intentions may be over the course of his invasion.
Gabrielius Landsbergis, who serves as the Foreign Minister of Lithuania, has proclaimed that “the battle for Ukraine is a battle for Europe,” which means that if Putin is not stopped in Ukraine, “he will go further.”
Moreover, Janis Garisons, who serves as the State Secretary, also observed that Russia not only “measures the military might but also the will of countries to fight.”
“Once [Russia sees] a weakness, they will exploit that weakness,” Garisons added.
Putin has yet to publicly proclaim his interest in taking over the Baltic states, though many remain in fear that he will eventually move on to other territories after Ukraine, especially in the face of an indecisive, divided United States.