U.S. Senate adopts resolution on Latvia, Russia

The U.S. Senate has unanimously agreed to a resolution honoring Latvia on the 90th anniversary of its declaration of independence and calling on the president to ask Russia to acknowledge that the Soviet occupation of the Baltic states was illegal.

The resolution, introduced June 9 by Republican Sen. Gordon H. Smith of Oregon and Democratic Sen. Richard Durbin of Illinois, was discharged by the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations on Sept. 16 and adopted the same day by the full Senate. The committee’s action came a day before it was scheduled to hear testimony about Russia’s aggression against Georgia.

The resolution specifically calls on the U.S. president and the secretary of state “to urge the government of the Russian Federation to acknowledge that the Soviet occupation of Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania under the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact and for the succeeding 51 years was illegal.”

The Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, signed in August 1939 by German Foreign Minister Joachim von Ribbentrop and Soviet Foreign Minister Vyacheslav Molotov, included a secret protocol that allowed the Soviet Union to extend its sphere of influence over the Baltic states.

The resolution also “commends the government of Latvia for its success in implementing political and economic reforms, for establishing political, religious and economic freedom, and for its strong commitment to human and civil rights.”

A similar resolution introduced July 31 in the House of Representatives does not ask the president or the secretary of state to seek Russian anknowledgement of the illegality of the Soviet Occupation. That resolution, H. Res. 1405, remains under review by the House Committee on Foreign Affairs.

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

5 thoughts on “U.S. Senate adopts resolution on Latvia, Russia

  1. Kudos to Senators Smith and Durbin, firstly, for the by- partisan S.RES.CON.87 which they submitted to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee which was then passed by the Senate just recently.Secondly, it is indeed heartening to know that Latvia and the Baltic States generally, are being acknowledged as sovereign states and worthy of world attention.Even though, Latvia is looking forward to celebrating 90 years of existence with periods marked by freedom and democracy, it has a much longer history dating back centuries. Somehow, the Latvian spirit and soul and language has not been extinguished in spite of numerous attempts to do so by brutal occupiers and more recently, by the efforts of the Soviets to squeeze the life out of Balts.Pride, stubborness ,spite have held Latvians in good stead. Those who are familiar with the history of the Baltic Republics are aware of all of these challenges that their populace faced. The greater challenge now will be for President Bush to insist that Russia acquit itself admirably and admit to the error of its ways when it signed the illegal Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact of Aug.23,1939. Russians are not known for acknowledging their massive array of mistakes, but, hope always springs eternal and perhaps President Bush can accomplish a miracle or two or three. Our thanks are extended to all who voted for the Resolution in the Senate. Now, if the House will just get down to business, perhaps its Resolution can also be passed forthwith. Our prayers go with President Bush as he embarks on fulfilling the whole of S.RES.CON.87.

  2. It would be great to urge Congressional Research service should deliver to congressmen the ex-tracts from The Papers relating to the foreign relations of the United States for 1919-1922 years – very useful reading! In August 1920, Secretary of State B. Colby explained the US position on the issue of Russia’s territorial integrity: “This Department <…> has been persistent in refusing to recognize the Baltic States as independent states apart from Russia. <…> it thinks that a decision arrived at in any international conference to recognize as independent governments the factions which now exercise some degree of control over territory which was part of Imperial Russia, and to establish their relationships and boundaries, is not advisable.” These were Leninist diplomats who spoke at that time about “oppressed nationalities,” supporting the independence of “new states, separated from Russia.” Comrade G. Chicherin harshly criticized “Mr. Colby, in his desire to maintain the integrity of the Tsarist territory.” It was Soviet Russia (!) the first to recognize Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia in 1920. And only after Gen. Wrangel’s defeat the UK and France recognized Estonia and Latvia, in January 1921, and Lithuania, in December 1921.The Americans waited. U.S. representative to Riga E. Young, in April 1922, wrote: “It is idle at this time to discuss the question as to whether the Letts, the Estonians and the Lithuanians were morally justified in proclaiming their independence in the hour of Russia’s weakness. <…> Whatever their future may be, it is certain that their action in proclaiming their independence has resulted in the maintenance of at least this part of the former Russian Empire free from the ravages and destruc¬tion of communism and bolshevism.” Only in 1922, when the Reds achieved a final factory and the hopes for restoring historical Russia disappeared, Washington decided to grant diplomatic recognition to “the governments in the Baltic provinces”. The Secretary of State C. Hughes on July 25, 1922 explained that matter: “The United States has consistently maintained that the disturbed conditions of Russian affairs may not be made the occasion for the alienation of Russian territory, and this principle is not deemed to be infringed by the recognition at this time of the Governments of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania which have been set up and maintained by an indigenous population.”

  3. It would seem that Mr. Fomenko is very delighted in having discovered that two former Secretaries of State of the United States are purported to have been behaving badly way back in 1921-22 vis a vis the Baltic States. Every generation of politicians and diplomats has their fair share of fools. Perhaps, Messrs Colby and Hughes, were largely ignorant and terribly uninformed about European issues or maybe, they were agents of influence protecting Soviet Russia’s interests? How will we ever know for sure? At any rate, the topic of conversation, S.RES.CON. 87, pertinent to the initial article, is one that deals only with the illegal Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact of 1939 and the subsequent illegal occupation of the Baltic States and the enormous swath of devastation and misery as the Soviets feasted on their ill-gotten gains. Admission by Russia that this is what they did, is paramount here, not that two former U.S.statesmen experienced a bout of dementia, if in fact this is true. Mr. Fomenko must have gone to a great deal of trouble to dig up this kind of information. It is not hard to figure out which side of the fence Mr. Fomenko is sitting on. One must mention how well Latvia has instituted its religious, economic and political freedoms, completely foreign ideas when the Soviets occupied Latvia. Basic human and civil rights have been restored and new generations are experiencing a new dawn in Latvia.

  4. It is about time the russians admit to their attocities against all the former soviet block countries. They continue to undermine the eforts of those countries to maintain their indeopendence and soverienty. It is imperative that the soviets be stoppped from there repeaded incursions into baltic countries and further more all soviet people should return to their own country. It is of no use to get them to admit their indescrestions without restitution, however, and all agresion in any manner should be halted. They now have aggesion towards Georgia to test the resolve of the western nations to stop them from dong so. It is of little use to have them admit anything if they continue to be aggresive towards other countries ,especially the ones they occupied ,plundered and raped for over 50 years. Let the USA and NATO go and prove to the Soviets that heir methods will not be tolerated. Idle chitchat with the Soviets has never been effective and will not be now. As they talk peace and frindship they plot murder just as my elders told me they would. If only they were al ive to see their words come true. The bear is awake, well rested and ready to kill again. Will the USA back their promises of defence of these former soviet block countries or is it more hot air. You tell me. I see no action was taken and the soviets see that as a sign of weakness. They will never be peacfull for it is theeir nature not to be. More than talk is indicated.

  5. Both Colby and Hughes never sympathized with the U.S.S.R. In July 1923, Secretary Hughes explained that it was only the tyrannical nature of the Soviet regime that did not allow his coun¬try to recognize the Soviet Union. Not Americans but Soviet diplomats spoke at that time about “oppressed nationalities,” supporting the independence of “new states, separated from Russia.” In fact the Baltic inde-pendent chiefs not American statesmen were such agents. That is why Soviet Russia was the first to recognize Baltic States. It is time for anticommunist latvi-ans to admit their compatriots atrocities against all anticommunist cause sup-porters: the soviet monument to the Red Latvian riflemen – bloody Lenin’s butch-ers – is still in Riga. And not only our elders told but foreign witnesses wrote about Latvian murderers who headed Bolshevik secret police. When Russia was captured by Georgian Communists (like Stalin and Beria) they tried to convert Russians and other peoples of the former Saint-Petersbourg Empire into Soviet people, but failed. Nobody but Russians freed themselves and all Soviet block countries from atheistic communism in 1991, and up to now they have not been thanked by so cold Christians.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *