In an interview to EADaily, Chief Editor of the Baltic World magazine, Dmitry Kondrashov shares his vision of the explosive potential of the Baltics and the ways to prevent an armed conflict in that region.
Could you comment on the latest news? Russia has denied visa to Juris Millers, a Latvian producer who has staged a musical about Nazi butcher Herberts Cukurs…
Recently, Russia’s “black lists” have become much more appropriate and realistic and are based on the country’s perception of the threat coming from one or another individual. Any state has the right to deny any individual access to its territory for reasons of safety. As you may see, the Balts keep enlarging the list of personas non grata from Russia. So, it is natural that the Russians are paying them back in their own coin.
Once, we discussed Estonian filmmaker Elmo Nüganen, who was going to make a film about the 20th Estonian SS Waffen-Grenadier Division and their anti-Russian “exploits” during WWII. Nüganen was very enthusiastic about that project but found no money for it. And what did he do? He moved to Russia and began making theatrical productions and his views were not an obstacle for our Culture Ministry. We wondered then why such “guests” were allowed not only to stay in Russia but also to engage in creative activities at the expense of our taxpayers. Nobody answered us but now the situation seems to be changing.
You mean that the Russians have learned to draw right conclusions from what their neighbors do?
Today, they are keeping an eye on them. They are not spying but are using open sources. And they could not but notice the scandal caused by Millers’ musical. It is natural that Mr. Millers has been denied access to Russia. We have lots of experts who perfectly speak Latvian, Lithuanian and Estonian. So, people like Millers are no longer able to pull our leg by saying one thing in Russian and an absolutely different thing in their native language. Any public statement made by a foreign public figure concerning Russia becomes known to our public no matter what language that person speaks.
Aren’t you afraid that the Balts may take revenge on the Russians living in their states?
We regularly see them using their Russians as a living shield against Russia. If they try to use those people as a cover for their efforts to deploy multinational NATO battalions in their territories, we will take this as hostage taking and will start regarding NATO as a terrorist organization.
Recently, NATO published a video complimenting the “Forest Brothers,” guerilla groups killing civilians in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania after WWII. Why are they doing this?
In case of a war with Russia, NATO needs to have some moral and historical excuses. This is why they are seeking to present post-war bandits as noble “fighters for freedom.” Such films are part of their ideological preparations for a new war with Russia. Today, the Balts like praising the people who prevented the advance of the Soviet army to Europe. But, in fact, those people prevented the liberation of Oswiecim and Salaspils and the destruction of Fascism. And by supporting this point of view, NATO shows solidarity with the founders of Oswiecim and Salaspils.
Many experts believe that the Baltics may become a battlefield. Do you share this belief?
Yes, I do. The concentration of armed forces in that region is critical. On the one side, NATO is deploying more and more troops in the region, on the other side, Russia is forced to react and to deploy troops along its borders. Now that both sides are keeping an eye on each other, the risk of a conflict is high as any small incident may sparkle a big war. The Baltics is turning into an explosive region, a place where we may witness a big war and even the use of mass destruction weapons. And everybody knows who is responsible for this: NATO has violated the pact saying that it should not deploy permanent armed forces near Russia’s borders.
Is there any chance that no conflict will break out?
Only if the region is demilitarized, if NATO officially admits that Russia is not a threat for the Baltics and withdraws its troops from that region and once the Baltics turns from a potential battlefield into a venue for peaceful contacts among the EU, NATO and Russia. But today this is hardly possible.
It seems that the Baltics governments are missing no chance to add fuel to the “war of words” between Russia and NATO. Don’t they have a self-preservation instinct?
Over the last decade, the Baltic governments have changed. Today, the region is ruled by pro-western regimes - mostly lowly competent people who live for today only and do not care for the future of their states. Those people have nothing to show to their voters, so, the best way for them to stay in power is to scare them with the “Russian threat,” with stories about “Russian’s dream to occupy the Baltics.” This is a good way for them to divert their voters’ attention from their own problems. And if something bad happens, they will never doubt to take hook just to form something like “a government in exile.”
Don’t they have people who can change things for the better?
There are healthy forces in the Baltics. I would not call them “pro-Russian.” They are just sensible people wishing to see their region in peace. Unfortunately, they don’t have enough influence in their states. Even more, today, it is often unsafe to fight for peace in the Baltics. You may face lots of problems if you dare to say that you don’t believe in the “Russian aggression” or that NATO must withdraw its troops from the region. Those people better find safer places. Today, more and more Balts are fleeing from their homelands. Their motives are mostly economical. But I still believe in the happy ending. I was born in Tallinn and I would not like to see that beautiful city turned into a battlefield.
For how long will the region face the risk of a war?
I see no signs of peaceful outcome yet. In the next three-five years, the risk of a conflict will be high and we will either see some fatal consequences or efforts to find a peaceful solution. Much will depend on the global situation, U.S.-Russian relations and the developments in the European Union. Time will show if the EU will be able to find ways to prevent itself from a collapse and to survive as a territory of democracy.