U.S. ambassador to NATO urges support for Baltics

In the wake of Russia’s invasion of Georgia, NATO needs “to send signals” to the Baltic states that it will protect them from military attack, Kurt Volker, the U.S. ambassador to the defense alliance, has told the Financial Times newspaper.

“They are feeling a little rattled by seeing Russia use military force to invade a sovereign, small neighboring country,” Volker told the newspaper during an interview in Brussels following a European Union summit on the Georgian situation. “We need to send signals to shore them up a little bit.”

As members of the defense alliance, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania need to be assured of NATO’s principle that an attack on one ally is to be answered by the entire alliance.

The Sept. 3 Financial Times article noted that all three Baltic countries have been outspoken in NATO and EU discussions about Russia’s invasion of Georgia. Latvia’s President Valdis Zatlers and Foreign Minister Māris Riekstiņš were among those condemning Russia’s actions in Georgia following the Aug. 9 invasion. Prime Minister Ivars Godmanis joined the presidents of several Eastern European nations in a visit to Tbilisi to show support for Georgia. Russia’s invasion was in response to Georgian military action in the breakway region of South Ossetia.

The paper also noted the large Russian minority populations in the Baltics. Russian officials have frequently been critical of Estonia’s and Latvia’s relations with Russian speakers in their countries.

Volker recommended military “planning and exercising” to shore up NATO’s presence in the Baltics, the Financial Times reported.

“We need to do what NATO ought to do, not in a provocative way and not in a rushed or hasty way,” Volker told the newspaper. “But NATO being credible is what’s important.”

The EU summit stopped short of issuing sanctions against Russia, a decision that met with approval from Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. However, the EU did decide to postpone talks with Russia over a partnership agreement, is sending emergency and reconstruction aid to Georgia, and called on nations not to recognize the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

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 “U.S. ambassador to NATO urges support for Baltics

  1. It is indeed very heartening and reassuring to learn that Kurt Volker, US Ambassador to NATO, has implicitly indicated that the territorial and sovereign integrity of the borders of the Baltic States will be defended by NATO should such a need arise. The belligerent and intimidating Cold War rhetoric emanating from the mouths of President Medvedev and Prime Minister Putin is indefensible. In an attempt to deflect public opinion from their own misdeeds in Georgia and Chechnya, they have attempted to smear and denigrate America for its actions in countries in which the West is taking a leading role in fighting global terrorism. It is impossible for Russians to understand what freedom and democracy is all about and why Western countries fight so bravely to defend it. Georgia is demanding to be freed and protected from the jugular hold that Soviets(Russians) had imposed on them for years past. To confer Russian passports on the citizens of Abkhazia and South Ossetia and then claim that by invading those provinces, Russia is defending its citizens from democracy, no less. Russia no doubt intentionally fomented unrest in these provinces so that Georgia’s leaders would have to attempt to minimize this threat to the region. Russia’s machinations know no bounds and luring and manipulating Georgia’s leaders is just one example. What the Russians also do not understand is the major difference between American and Russian actions vis a vis countries that they have entered. American taxpayers have always generously given monies and other aid to rebuild infrastructure and has rebuilt any country and left it in better shape than in which it was originally found.The Russians have never, never cleaned up after themselves. The once occupied Eastern European countries they brutalized and raped were left in those same abominable conditions and when they finally left , they plundered and stole whatever they could as they retreated.The list of their misdeeds is impossibly long and cannot be itemized here. The difference between moral and immoral relations that Russia has with other couuntries is negligible. Morality , honesty , fairness are not words readily attributed in Russia’s lexicon. NATO tenets thankfully employ the prescript of three late, well known, American performers: “All for one and one for all.” Thank, God, for the United States of America, “land of the free and the home of the brave”.

  2. Let us just hope that NATO honours its principles and supports the Baltics as once again the russian threat is looming. The russians still abide by 19th century principles of occupation and colonisation of a smaller neighbours country. They, as per the PM of Georgia are nothing but drunkards, thugs and thieves and should not be given world class status as members of the G8. Stop buying their oil and gas. Sanctions should be brought against them.

  3. Wherever russians population is, the Russia Government shall have a reason to invade, in order to “save” its citizen, thinking this way, not even America is safe.
    Not bad people, but they are just perfect pieces to play…sorry for russians. In most of the countries around Russia they were brought to “russificate” (Lenin, oh Lenin…) the invaded lands, meanwhile the citizens of those countries were sent to Siberia…invited or forced to (March, decades ago in Latvia)…anyway, If Russia cares so much for its citizens and its actions abroad, could start paying for the consequences of Chernobyl (the assistant to affected people is implemented by Ukraine Government I think) or the monuments to Soviet Army in Baltic Countries, raised with locals money. Also Russian Governemt if caring so much for russians abroad, could offer them repatriation options to Russia that, as far as I understand now, is really rich living the Capitalist Way of Life (American Way of Life?). Russians abroad have not integrated fully to the host countries and are always watching russian TV, reading russian newspapers and missing Russia all the time (example:russians in Sevastopol saluting russian ships not ukranian ships: they feel russians not ukranians)… Why to go messing around when things can be solve peacefully? let the prodigal sons of Mother Russia to come back to the dreamed land, so everybody would be happy. Seriously: Russian Government reminds me the History Books when acting. It moves as a Medieval Empire, menacing (Poland) and invading (Georgia) with Putin the Great ruling. These actions in Georgia were ment to assest how far Russia can go, and shall set the conduct for future actions…the future of World Balance of Power relays in the “now” actions of NATO and USA…Russia in this moment is testing how big NATO and USA b… really are… :) Pardon me for this language… :)

  4. The events in Georgia have been a chilling reminder to us all how quickly Russia can take the intiative and how little the west can do about it. It does need that tact that Volker talks about as per the editor’s article. see: “We need to do what NATO ought to do, not in a provocative way and not in a rushed or hasty way,” Volker told the newspaper. “But NATO being credible is what’s important.”

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