Latvia is prepared to contribute food aid to Russia, Prime Minister Guntars Krasts announced yesterday. Krasts recommended that the Baltic Sea countries and the European Union set up a special assistance fund for Russia to alleviate social tensions there during the economic crisis. Foreign Minister Valdis Birkavs added that Russia’s unpredictability should spur Latvian producers to reorient exports westward to avoid the impact of Russian crises and sanctions.
The offer of food assistance represents a stinging response to Russia’s political campaign against Latvia. Economic sanctions accompanying that campaign have primarily hurt Latvia’s food industry.
Lithuania’s Foreign Ministry yesterday sent a delegation to the neighboring Kaliningrad region, Russia’s military exclave, for consultations with its civilian administration on possible aid. Lithuania’s presidency and cabinet of ministers are considering measures, including humanitarian assistance, to avert instability in Kaliningrad region. Two days ago parliament chairman Vytautas Landsbergis proposed a targeted aid program by the European Union, Poland, Lithuania and other Baltic Sea countries in conjunction with another proposal to demilitarize Kaliningrad region.
The Kaliningrad region’s administration, headed by Leonid Gurbenko, declared yesterday a state of economic emergency, urging the population not to panic or hoard food staples in response to shortages and skyrocketing prices. Gurbenko publicly threatened to withhold tax payments to Russia’s budget on the grounds that the central government is a net debtor to the region. (BNS, Russian TV, Itar-Tass, September 8)
TWO WAYS TO MARK BELARUSAN MILITARY ANNIVERSARY.