Baltic warn­ing over Rus­sian move on Nato

Malta Independent - - WORLD -

Lithua­nia has warned that Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin may test Nato in the weeks be­fore Don­ald Trump be­comes US pres­i­dent.

For­eign Min­is­ter Li­nas Linke­vi­cius said he was “very afraid” for the Baltics, as well as the Syr­ian city of Aleppo.

Nowhere is the trou­bled tran­si­tion of Don­ald Trump be­ing watched more care­fully than in the Baltic states.

Lithua­nia be­lieves its dark view of Rus­sian in­ten­tions is jus­ti­fied by its ge­og­ra­phy and its his­tory.

Once part of the Soviet Union, it is now a mem­ber of both Nato and the Euro­pean Union. It has a land bor­der with the Rus­sian ex­clave of Kalin­ingrad on the Baltic Sea.

In the cap­i­tal, Vil­nius, there is a mu­ral show­ing Mr Trump and Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin locked in a pas­sion­ate em­brace.

The gov­ern­ment nat­u­rally ex­presses its views in less lurid terms but it shares the ba­sic con­cern of the artist that Mr Trump and Mr Putin are too close for com­fort.

The fear here is that the United States is keen to see Rus­sia as a po­ten­tial part­ner and re­luc­tant to share the view in Eastern Europe that Moscow presents a po­tent and im­me­di­ate mil­i­tary threat.

Lithua­nian For­eign Min­is­ter Li­nas Linke­vi­cius said sim­ply: “Rus­sia is not a su­per­power, it’s a su­per prob­lem.”

Rus­sia in­sists it is not a threat, ar­gu­ing that Nato is re­spon­si­ble for stok­ing re­gional ten­sions by ex­pand­ing east­wards and mov­ing its mil­i­tary hardware to­wards Rus­sian bor­ders

The Rus­sian ex­clave of Kalin­ingrad rep­re­sents an im­por­tant mil­i­tary out­post be­tween Poland and Lithua­nia with its coast­line on the Baltic Sea.

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