Documents claim U.S., U.K. supported occupation

Declassified intelligence documents reveal the Soviet entry into the Baltic states during 1940 was viewed with understanding by the United States and the United Kingdom, Russia’s Interfax news service reported Nov. 23.

The documents, held by the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service, show the two Western powers saw the Soviet occupation “as an unpleasant but necessary measure to oppose Nazi Germany’s aggression,” Interfax reported.

The information—revealed just days before the NATO defense alliance summit in Rīga—was requested by the Duma, Russia’s parliament, the news service said.

No immediate reaction was available from the U.K. Foreign and Commonwealth Office or the U.S. State Department. But the Latvian Ministry of Foreign Affairs blasted the report. The story is yet another clumsy attempt by Russia to rewrite Latvian history and to justify the Soviet occupation in 1940, Atis Lots, the ministry’s press secretary, told Latvians Online in an e-mail.

“It is not necessary to dig in Russian archives to learn that the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact was signed in 1939,” Lots said, “(and) that the Stalinist Soviet Union cooperated with Hitler’s Germany (by providing material for war, training officers, etc.) up to start of World War II.”

The Interfax report makes no mention of the 1939 nonaggression treaty signed by Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, nor of the secret Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact that placed the Baltic republics in the Soviet sphere of influence.

According to Interfax, the U.S. and British perspective on the entry of Soviet forces into the Baltics was obtained by Soviet spies based in the Western powers.

“Unique information resources that our intelligence services possessed in London and Washington made it possible to have a clear picture of the evolution in the U.S. and British political leaderships’ approaches toward understanding the importance of the Baltic region for opposing the German aggression, i.e. not only for the USSR but also for the entire anti-Hitler coalition that was formed in the second half of 1941,” Interfax reported, citing the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service press bureau.

The report claims the documents show the Western powers saw the takeover of the Baltics as an “unpleasant but necessary and timely step” to remove pro-German governments. In Latvia’s case, that meant the removal of the authoritarian regime of Kārlis Ulmanis, who had staged a bloodless coup in 1934.

Lots dismissed the report, saying Latvia has no doubt about the role of the United States and the United Kingdom in the country’s history.

“These countries supported Latvia’s formation in 1918 and its international recognition, as well as cooperated with the Republic of Latvia before the war,” he said. “They have never recognized the illegal incorportion of Latvia into the USSR. The United States and Great Britain also have offered invaluable support in the renewal of independence, in the removal of Russian troops, and in Latvia’s development, including in the process of joining the European Union and NATO.”

Interfax’s news story also notes the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service has a document pertaining to treatment of Jews under the German occupation. “The memoirs of a female prisoner of the Jewish ghetto in Rīga described the practices used there, which turn out to have been even more inhuman than those in the Warsaw ghetto, which is better known to the public,” Interfax reported.

Soviet forces were forced out of the Baltics by German forces in 1941, but regained control of the countries in 1944. Only in 1991 were Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania able to regain their independence.

Andris Straumanis is a special correspondent for and a co-founder of Latvians Online. From 2000–2012 he was editor of the website.

4 thoughts on “Documents claim U.S., U.K. supported occupation

  1. Just another example of the dishonesty and fact twisting of the Soviet and now Russian government. Even today the official Russian view is that the Baltics asked to be incorporated into the Soviet Union.

  2. Although the United States and the United Kingdom did not recognize (officially) the illegal occupation of Latvia, they were made aware of the Molotov Ribbentrop Pact before it was even completed, and as the end of the war neared, they ignored all news about the Baltic States in order to avoid confrontation with the powerful Soviet ALLY. The Americans could not afford to continue the war, or could they?

  3. I read the comments here and expected to see a lot of U.S./Britain bashing. I am glad to see that not everyone believes what they see in the news.

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