neljapäev, november 23, 2006

Russia Fesses Up Ahead of NATO Summit

That's Harry Hopkins there, with Winston Churchill - the man who loved Ireland so much. According to the Russian SVR, they occupied the Baltics, but only with the approval from Britain and the US.

The SVR statement says a secret memorandum from the British Foreign Minister in 1942 describes the Soviet presence in the Baltics as "exactly in our interests from a purely strategic point of view."

It also quotes an agent's report from the United States in 1942, referring to a presidential aide identified only as Hopkins — apparently Harry Hopkins, a close foreign-policy adviser to Franklin D. Roosevelt.

"If the Russians want to have the Baltics after the war, then they will get them, but he does not think the Americans will say this publicly," the report says, summarizing Hopkins' position.

This is supposed to take the wind out of the sails of the Riga summit, but at the same time it confirms the truth - that the USSR occupied the Baltics because it saw them as a threat. Willingly joined? See ya later Soviet history :)

Today, I applaud the Russians. Open your archives more! Inquiring minds want to know!


Elagu eesti!

For those of you that are interested in this interesting term "occupation":

Hague Conventions of 1907. Specifically "Laws and Customs of War on Land" (Hague IV); October 18, 1907: "Section III Military Authority over the territory of the hostile State"[1]. The first two articles of that section state:

Art. 42.

Territory is considered occupied when it is actually placed under the authority of the hostile army.

The occupation extends only to the territory where such authority has been established and can be exercised.

Art. 43.

The authority of the legitimate power having in fact passed into the hands of the occupant, the latter shall take all the measures in his power to restore, and ensure, as far as possible, public order and safety, while respecting, unless absolutely prevented, the laws in force in the country.

12 kommentaari:

Anonüümne ütles ...

Finally the word slipped out of their mouth... we were occupied after all! These news are not new and shouldn't make anyone angry.

stockholm slender ütles ...

I don't know, the news from Russia are just more and more alarming. It is obvious that there has been no serious re-examination of the awful past, the awful traumas of the past at all. Some sort of nostalgic chauvinism seems to be the order of the day. That can't mean very good news for the rest of Europe, not to talk about the immediate Western neighbours. Of course, all this speaks volumes of the horrible moral collapse that Bolshevism brought to Russia, but also much about the slow holocaust that was Russian history before the revolution. Enlightenment never really arrived, never really penetrated. Liberal democracy has never been a serious contender, a strong civil society has never had time to develope. Russians are a great people cursed - it seems for ever - by awful, repressive, corrupt state...

Giustino ütles ...

Russians are a great people cursed - it seems for ever - by awful, repressive, corrupt state...

They think that strong local governments will make them weak, but I think that the only way for responsible government to really take root there is for it to happen organically.

That means no more "personality cults" and stronger local governors who know their republics better than one man in Moscow.

It's not likely to happen, but that's what I'd advise.

Unfortunately, they are still trying to play this "geopolitical powerbroker" game. They want to be respected or feared - but is that really in the best interests of their citizens? As an American I can tell you - having your army spread around the globe is not the smartest strategy for a country that wants to live long and prosper.

Ask the UK or France, or any of the old Great Powers. They over extended themselves and then fell, one by one.

With regards to the news, I'm just amazed that they've basically admitted that they removed the Baltic governments and that, therefore, the Baltics never willingly joined the USSR.

I'm sure they'd never say this candidly, but they in fact JUST DID. A major milestone.

Anonüümne ütles ...

Come on, this is just a PR move, conveniently timed just before Dubya gets there. Why don't they embarrass Dubya or Condi (the notorious "let's keep the USSR together" person in her previous life) on the president's first Estonian visit? Now there's something else to talk about than the hundreds of Yanks that will invade the Radisson...and wonder what the heck "leib & lust" could mean...

stockholm slender ütles ...

Definitely playing the old geopolitical and territorial powergames. They are stuck in the past, quite hopelessly. For the ordinary Russians the most beneficial thing would be to attempt to build a healthy and strong civil society, but there is no tradition for it, no natural cultural context. What they have gotten from the West is a very raw form of capitalism and a dysfunctioning form of liberal democracy (if you can still use the term). Perhaps when the economy diversifies and gets stronger the civil society will also strengthen, but I don't think that this would be an automatic process in Russia.

Giustino ütles ...

Come on, this is just a PR move, conveniently timed just before Dubya gets there.

Ah, but this is a blog about Estonia, not the US. And from the Estonian perspective, what matters more is that Russia is looking for ways to "share the guilt" over the occupation. They have, in fact, confessed - even if it was supposed to be a nasty PR move.

Remember, up until May 2005, you had Putin telling reporters that the Baltics willingly joined the USSR. And now the SVR releases documents that say in no uncertain terms that the Russians purposefully removed those governments and occupied those countries with their troops with the agreement of the US and Britain.

So which is - in the long run - more important. Will this change the Estonians' relationship with the US and Britain? No. They are very aware that they were deserted at Yalta. But it does change the relationship between Russia and Estonia because you have Russian news agencies clearly stating that the Soviet history is fiction.

How could anybody ever take them seriously again on that issue? They just erased any remaining doubt. That may not have been their intention, but that is what in fact just happened.

Giustino ütles ...

I mean Russian PR outlets still put the word 'occupation' in scare quotes to let you know that the issue isn't settled - that there is some disagreement over what happened.

But they really can't do that anymore.

Jens-Olaf ütles ...

With less than 1,5 million you easily get on alert. In autumn 1939 the Estonian government did not tell the people what happend. It's not 1939 now, everything is outspoken, frankly. I hope. But old geo-politics are back.

stockholm slender ütles ...

Btw, an interesting debate going on at Crooked Timber on the subject...

Anonüümne ütles ...

But it won't come from Putin's mouth. I keep telling my friends, it took the US a hundred years to apologise for the illegal occupation and annexation of Hawai'i (Clinton did that). I think we'll be lucky if the Kremlin did that officially before 2040...

Giustino ütles ...

I'm even attempting to learn the language. (Yes, go ahead and laugh at me!) I think I will like reading this!

Estonian is a challenging language, but it has a few things going for it:

1) everything is spelled phonetically. So you won't have to deal with archaic spellings and strange pronunciation.

2) although the grammatical cases are numerous, they make sense. if you listen enough, you'll pick up the changes naturally

3) it's in the Roman alphabet. so it has THAT going for it. Which is nice

4) it's a nice language, especially when sung. you'll WANT to learn it, because it sounds good.

Good luck - Kõige head!

Giustino ütles ...

See, it's hard to understand Russia's position here.

They are saying they had to deploy troops to the Baltics in 1940 to prevent a German attack on St Petersburg. But they DID deploy troops in 1939, and the Estonian government continued to function until June 1940.

Then they are saying they had to remove those regimes in 1940 because they were hostile to the Soviet Union - EVEN though they allowed thousands of Russian troops into their country.

Then they are saying that they didn't grant them independence after the war, just because nobody brought it up. Well when all of your national leaders were purged via bullet or gulag in 1941, NO SHIT they didn't bring it up.

And FDR did bring it up. He offered a plebiscite for the Baltics - where they would vote on independence after the war. Stalin rebuffed the idea. "Voting" as an alien idea to him.

In a way though, all this arguing is silly. Estonia IS independent and Germany and Russia are not going to war. 1940 was 66 years ago - a fairly full lifetime. Russians and Estonians in Tallinn work side by side - most of them too young to really harbor bad blood for one another.

This much is true. Estonia never willingly joined the Soviet Union, and at the first opportunity (glasnost and perestroika) they made a run for it and aren't looking back. And all was legal and happy.