Latvia Becomes The New Frontline In The Cold War Between NATO And Russia

Since 2014 Russia and NATO have significantly increased their military presence in the Baltics, especially along the Latvian-Russian border. With a large and increasingly uneasy ethnic Russian minority, many fear that Latvia could become the next Ukraine as Moscow seeks to exercise greater control over its western periphery. Phoebe Greenwood of the Guardian has travelled to the region and produced this short video report.

 

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21 comments

  1. Wait, are you telling me that speaking Latvian is an emblem of identity, an emblem of being Latvian?

    I thought you could just speak the language of the conqueror, like in Ireland, and it wouldn’t matter.

    #TGTTGA

  2. I would like to redact the above comment. While in principle I agree with the statement, there does not seem to me to be a direct correlation between the situation in Ireland and the situation in Latvia. The English had a lot more time to attempt to wipe out the language than the Russians did.

    However, notwithstanding whatever lack of sensitivity I may have employed in the above comment, the principle of language as identity remains.

      1. The Irish have not lost their language. For most it is an important part of their identity, for many it is indeed the centre. But we certainly can take heed and learn a lesson from Latvia.

        1. A language you can’t speak can’t be a part of your identity. That’s why Europeans make fun of people like Italian-Americans who say that they’re Italians, but can’t speak the language.

          1. “A language you can’t speak can’t be a part of your identity.”

            – Jānis

            More rubbish as usual from the Russophobic Latvian racist.
            Many Swedish-speaking Finns do not speak Finnish – but proudly consider themselves 100% Finnish.
            Sibelius – the Finnish national composer – spoke Swedish as mother-tongue as did Marshall Mannerheim, both Finnish national heroes.

            1. Those are just lies you tell yourself to feel better. The Irish lost a huge chunk of their identity when they threw their own language away. A 100% Irish speaking Ireland would be a completely different country now (better or worse – I don’t know)

              1. ” A language you cannot speak cannot be part of your identity”
                – Jānis

                The Swedish-speaking Finns are 100% Finns.
                Fact.
                Your denial of facts does not alter reality.

                Here’s another fact for you :
                The murder of 10’s of thousands of innocent Latvian civilians by Latvians during WW2 – will be a part of Latvian history for eternity.

                Utterly cowardly and eternally shameful.

                Fact.

      2. Languages the world over are being lost and not because it isn’t at the centre of their identity. And I wouldn’t describe Irish as lost. Damaged and diminished but not lost.

      3. The Latvians surrendered and simply stepped aside and allowed the Soviets walk in and take over Latvia – without even putting up a fight in WW2.
        That said, it did not prevent the Latvians from collaborating with the Nazi’s in murdering their helpless, innocent fellow-Latvian citizens en masse in their thousands.

        Utterly cowardly and eternally shameful.

  3. Great article. Finally, some real journalism without the interjection of personal opinion or telling people how they should think about the subject.

  4. Interesting parallel not noted at all here between the situation of the Russian speakers in Latvia and the minority community in N.Ireland. A neurotic majority? (Unionists/Latvians) check. Backed by a military power? (UK/NATO) check. Oppressing and discriminating against a minority, incl. denying their language equal respect? (native Irish/Russians) check. Minority originally from a nuclear armed neighbouring country on the UN Security Council and now suffering loss of prestige thanks to diminished and falling status in the world? check.

    Could these sides exchange peace negotiators? Why not? It would end the whataboutery about what one side did to the other and bring some objectivity about what’s a reasonable and fair way to behave. Get some unionists to advocate for Russians in Lavtia and then contrast their behaviour at home.

    Trouble is, while it might help defuse tensions the Russians can’t be trusted to keep their word. Ukraine would still have Crimea if it had retained nuclear weapons. Never mind that it was Russian for a long time and that most likely wished it to remain so. Russia’s approach to foreign relations is not one the west should accommodate.

    I had to laugh at the idea of our not wanting to see the Russians in Brussels. The truth is that aside from having nuclear weapons it’s pretty washed up, as anyone who has been there knows. It makes even N.Ireland look prosperous. The Russian military would not prevail against NATO. The nuclear threat and deniable actions is all the Russians have, plus, of course, their man in the White House.

    1. It’s the other way around.

      Unionists = Russians.
      Native Irish = Latvians.

      Why the hell do they want to impose Russian upon people in the only place in the world where Latvian is spoken? They already have a huge country – the biggest in the world in fact, where Russian is official already. If they don’t want to learn Latvian – they’re free to GTFO to Russia and speak Russian there. From Kaliningrad to Vladivostok – more than enough space for everybody.

      1. Latvia has form – utterly shameful form – when it comes to slaughtering, butchering and murdering their own innocent minorities in their 10’s of thousands as evidenced in WW2.

        Vile, cowardly and eternally shameful.

        1. Dude, would you please stop this already?

          I didn’t make your nation to throw away its language, culture and identity. You did that to yourselves. So stop being so envious.

          1. I will not stop reminding you of the horrors meted out to a Latvian minority by your fellow-countrymen.

            I can assure you I am not envious of Latvia – I have been there and I fully understand why you choose to live in Ireland instead.

            1. Economy can be fixed, but a culture once lost is gone forever. No need to remind me. I know perfectly well that some of my countrymen committed war crimes. But unlike some imperial powers we don’t glorify them and don’t celebrate their crimes. Only a total nutjob would say that Viktors Arājs & his henchmen were right.

    2. Like or loathe them, one thing people mustn’t underestimate is the fighting capabilities of the Russians. Their history is laced with a determination and willingness to defend their country. Give me a soldier who will die defending his country over one who will die defending someone else’s country. I think you’ll find there won’t be as many takers for the latter.
      Btw, we irish have long memories concerning past deeds done on us by our foe, Britain. I am fairly sure the Russians have long memories too, not least the very real suspicion that the west allowed the Nazis to have it out with Russia before entering the ring in ww2. In fact some believe the west wouldn’t have minded if the Nazis had conquered Russia. Perhaps another European carve up of a ripe land would have ensued? The Russians will also be minded that several countries along their border facilitated the Nazis, although it’s a story seldom told.
      Ah well, better stick to the western narrative(fakenews?) that Russia wants to rule the world especially with ‘their own man’ running the White House now(more fakenews).

      1. No one believes that the Russians want to take over the world. But they want to pull their neighbours in their sphere of influence. They’ve done that for centuries. I don’t want a war with Russia. I just want them to leave my country alone.

        And speaking of the Nazis. Russia doesn’t like to remember that the USSR and Nazi Germany were ALLIES until 1941 and divided Eastern Europe between them together. Both of them invaded Poland at the same time, met in the middle of Poland and even had a joint military parade. That’s why Russian propaganda always emphasises that their “Great Patriotic War” started in 1941 and don’t like to mention anything that happened before that. So spare all the “USSR – the righteous and mighty fighter against the Nazis” bullshit. My country had to suffer under both of them – there was no difference.

  5. So let me get this straight.

    Russia contends that it has a right to send Russia troops into Syria at the request of the Syrian government.

    Yet NATO has no right to station NATO troops in Latvia at the request of the Latvian government?

    Hmm, a perfect example of doublethink…

  6. Latvia has only been a state since 1918, with interludes where it was not since then. Dominated by the Prussian Knights (German speaking), Jagellionian empire (Polish Belarusian speaking), Russians. So it is no wonder their language was weakened. The real miracle is that it survived. Sad that many of our so-called Socialist who would defend the right to self determination here will not do teh same for teh Baltic nations. If fact a few years ago they published lies about how well these nations were doing in their beloved USSR, a prison house of nations just like Tsarist Russia and now Putinista Russsia

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