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Russia to declare Baltic Republics’ independence unlawful?

Halya Coynash

   A Russian programme recently suggested that Russian soldiers could take most of Europe  within days

Interfax has quoted a source “familiar with the situation” as saying that the Prosecutor General’s Office is to check whether the Baltic Republics declared independence legally.  This comes just days after the same illustrious body informed that the transfer of Crimea to Ukraine in 1954 had been ‘unconstitutional’ and therefore illegitimate.

The source explained a deputy request for ‘clarification’ on Baltic independence as being because the “legal decision recognizing the independence of the Baltic states was flawed since taken by an unconstitutional body ».  An answer “analogous to that over Crimea” is expected. 

The source does acknowledge that there can be no real legal consequences of the “decision” with respect to Crimea, and claims that the Prosecutor General’s Office simply “stated the fact, namely that the transfer of Crimea to Ukraine in Nikita Khrushchev’s time was not made on a constitutional basis since the relevant decisions were not taken by authorized bodies”.

The anonymous source suggests that the Prosecutor General’s Office answer to the question should be “more measured”.  “Recognizing this or that fateful decision as unlawful could go too far – to creating a problem of the legitimacy of the creation of the USSR and other states”.  Therefore “you must consider not only the legal but the political aspect of the issues raised”.

Verbal sabre-rattling? 

The source’s comments regarding the possible ramifications if Russia begins pronouncing this or that decision ‘unlawful’ are spot on, with Russia leaving itself vulnerable over a number of legally questionable geopolitical moves made either by Russia or the Soviet Union. 

In fact, however, the key message travelling around the Internet following the Interfax report is that the Prosecutor General’s Office is placing the legitimacy of three Baltic Republics in question.  Any such question marks with respect to three members of both NATO and the European Union are absurd, but they follow numerous other moves over the last year and more that have made all three republics rightly concerned about their security.   

Russia’s invasion and annexation of Crimea, including a ‘referendum’ so ominously reminiscent of the pretend ‘elections’ in countries forced to become Soviet satellites, were in flagrant breach of international law and have been consistently recognized as such. 

The words sound good, but so did the assurances given to Ukraine in the 1994 Budapest Memorandum signed by not only Russia, but also the USA and Britain, in exchange for Ukraine’s handing over a significant nuclear arsenal.

Over the last six months, both Russia’s upper house of parliament and the Prosecutor General’s Office have suggested that Crimea was “illegally” made part of Ukraine, and the Russian speaker Sergei Naryshkin has claimed that Ukraine annexed Crimea

It’s hard to say if they hope to convince a local audience, or whether all of this is verbal sabre-rattling and bluster, but it has its menacing side, and the Baltic Republics, like Ukraine, have cause to be on their guard. 

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