The 3 Baltic States are considered Slavic


Prof. Dr. Hannes Adomeit

To person

Prof. Dr. Hannes Adomeit is Professor of Eastern European Studies at the College of Europe, Natolin Campus (Warsaw). He was head of the Russia / CIS research group at the Science and Politics Foundation (SWP). Prior to that, he was Professor of International Politics at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy in Boston and a Fellow at the Russian Research Center at Harvard University.

Russia's relationship with the Baltic States is characterized by recurring conflicts. Moscow regards the states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania as a relatively unified area. There are good reasons for this in the historical development.

The bronze soldier in Tallinn in May 2007. The relocation of the statue from 1947, announced by the Estonian government, caused disruptions in the Estonian-Russian relationship in spring 2007 (& copy AP)

Historical development

After the Northern War from 1700 to 1721, parts of what is now Estonia and Latvia and, as a result of the third partition of Poland in 1795, large areas of what is now Lithuania were incorporated into the Tsarist Empire as Russian provinces. In the process of disintegration of the Reich and the October Revolution, the three states recognized by Bolshevik Russia in 1920 - but only for 20 years: in secret additional agreements to the German-Soviet non-aggression treaty (Hitler-Stalin Pact) of August 23, 1939 and the Border and Friendship Treaty of September 28 of the same year, the Baltic states were left to the Soviet catchment area. This laid the foundation for the elimination of their sovereignty.

Russia within the CIS. To open the PDF, click on the image. (& copy
Under massive pressure and threats of violence, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania were annexed by the Soviet Union in 1940. According to the Soviet version of the time and the Russian version of today, they "asked" Moscow to send and station troops for their protection and "voluntarily" joined the USSR. In June 1940, mass deportations began of residents who were supposedly or actually hostile to the Soviet system.

After the end of the German occupation of the Baltic States in 1944 and the return of Soviet power, the deportations and reprisals against the population were resumed. At the same time, ethnic Russians and other Slavic population groups, mainly from the Russian, Ukrainian and Belarusian Soviet Republics, were relocated to the Baltic countries as planned, in order to tie these formerly independent republics more closely to Moscow's central power. This should prevent the development of aspirations for independence. Industrialization processes led to further labor immigration from the Soviet Union. As a result, Estonians and Latvians threatened to become a minority in their own countries. Together with the Lithuanians, however, they were able to seize the opportunity in the Gorbachev era to regain their independence in 1991. In keeping with the character of the Baltic States as a region with similar interests and problems, the Baltic states were admitted as full members of NATO in March 2004 and the EU in May 2004.

Russia's current relationship with the three states is still heavily shaped and burdened by history. The central points of contention are the circumstances of the accession of the Baltic states to the Soviet Union in 1940, the status of the annexation under international law and the assessment of the time periods from 1940-1941 and 1944-1991.