The Baltic republics have drawn some conclusions from the war and the Western reaction. Estonia’s President Lennart Meri did not attend the last month’s OSCE summit because of the organization’s passivity in the face of the war and of rising chauvinism and anti-Semitism in Russia. His prime minister said the logic which kills civilians to get at terrorists would end aircraft hijackings by blowing up the planes. Latvia’s President Vaira Vike-Freiberga also skipped the summit; her prime minister called the war a manifestation of racism, in which Russia has demonized the Chechen people. Lithuania’s former president and current parliamentary chairman Vytautas Landsbergis called the war “colonial” and said it may be followed by attacks on Georgia and Azerbaijan, “Russia’s main targets in the Caucasus.”
The real Baltic concerns are closer to home. Latvia’s president was most explicit. Looking at Chechnya, she said, “one must conclude… that the Russian military maintains a level of combat readiness which also creates a potential threat to Latvia.” The war in Chechnya has strengthened Baltic determination to seek full membership in NATO.