Reluctant Rapprochement: Russia and the Baltic States in the Context of NATO and EU Enlargements
Publish date: 2003-01-01
Report number: FOI-R--0808--SE
Written in: English
Throughout the 1990s Russia resisted the Baltic states´ striving for NATO membership by using military threats, political blackmail and economic pressure, but when this did not work, it reluctantly accepted the process. The improved relations with the USA and Europe after 11 September 2001, which resulted for example in a new NATO-Russia Council, saved Russian prestige and opened new vistas for Putin´s foreign policy. Russia tried to use Estonian and Latvian border claims and minority problems as means to disqualify these states from NATO and EU membership, but this did not work since the states reorienting their trade to the West and seeking EU membership. But Russia did not object to and in fact recommended Baltic EU membership as an Russian foreign policy, its own cooperationwith the EU, especially in the energy sector, developed. EU enlargementalso signified problems for Russia, notably regarding transit across Lithuania to Kaliningrad. but that problem was solved by a compromise before the Baltic states were invited to join the EU in December 2002. Russian-Baltic relations have thus evolved from mutual estrangement in the early 1990s towards reluctant rapprochement under the aegis of all-European integration, and economic interests have come to the forefront.