immediately denounced the incident as a "scandalous" event that "typified Latvia’s violations of elementary human rights." Russia’s official outrage had an air of contrivance about it, especially in the repeated expressions of shock that Western leaders should be so silent about the gross offenses of Latvia yet so vocal in denouncing the peccadilloes of Belarus.

Then in the first week of April, an explosion near the Russian Embassy in Riga caused damage but no injuries. Russia’s foreign ministry called this a "terrorist act which stems from … anti-Russian hysteria," while Latvian authorities blamed those — Russians? — who seek to damage Latvia’s security and "jeopardize … accession to the European Union and NATO." Boris Yeltsin told his acting cabinet to introduce targeted economic sanctions against Latvia, including reduced oil deliveries and curtailed use of Latvian ports and transit routes for westbound Russian exports. … Russia’s quick resort to economic sanctions in Latvia may or may not send a message to Riga, but it surely sends a message to oil and gas exporters in Central Asia and the Caucasus. That message is: better find non-Russian routes to world markets, and fast.