Residents of the Baltic States less support the extension of sanctions against Russia. This is evidenced by the survey conducted by the Institute of philosophy and sociology, Latvian University. The researchers also found that the population of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia also ceases to treat Russia as a “military threat”. Meanwhile, the authorities of the Baltic States will not abandon anti-Russian rhetoric. According to experts, the inhabitants of these countries feel the effects of the sanctions, and are beginning to realize that Moscow is not to blame for their internal problems.

  • The Port Of Riga
  • © Victor Lisitsin/Russian Look

Residents of the Baltic States ceased to support the idea of expanding anti-Russian sanctions. On 16 March told the media of the Baltic countries, citing a sociological survey of the Institute of philosophy and sociology, University of Latvia held Latvian scientists together with Lithuanian and Estonian colleagues. The study took place in January of 2019, the survey polled 3031 resident of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

The language of numbers

According to the survey, if in 2015 in Latvia the extension of sanctions against Russia was supported by 30,7% of the population, now the proportion of supporters of this point of view has halved to 14.7%. In Estonia this indicator decreased from 44.3% to 24.7%, and in Lithuania from 54.4% to 22.4%.


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However, the retention of sanctions in the current volume are now 41.9% of the surveyed Lithuanians, 30.8% of residents of Estonia and 26.6% of Latvians. In 2016, when was the last time the Balts asked this question, thought that only 25.4% of respondents in Lithuania 18,1% in Estonia and 17.7% in Latvia.

Compared with the year 2016, the Agency said Delfi, the number of people who believe that sanctions against Russia should weaken decreased in Latvia (from 43.3% to 32.4%) and decreased slightly in Estonia (from 28.7% to 27.2%). But in Lithuania the number of supporters of easing sanctions pressure increased — from 11.2% to 14.5%.

Increased significantly and the number of those who basically did not know what to do with the anti-Russian sanctions. Over the past three years the percentage of those who found it difficult to answer this question increased: in Latvia — from 8.1% to 26.3%, in Lithuania — from 9% to 21.2%, in Estonia — from 8.9% to 17.2%.

In addition, “the people of the Baltic States was less to blame Russia in the Ukrainian conflict,” — says Latvian TV channel TVNET. C 2016 in Latvia, the proportion of those who are pinned on Moscow blame for the escalation of tensions in Eastern Ukraine, decreased from 41.5% to 36.7%, in Estonia — 56.8 per cent to 42.5%, in Lithuania — from 63% to 41.1%.

  • People on the street in Riga
  • RIA Novosti
  • © Sergey Melkonov

In turn, referring to data provided by researcher of Institute of philosophy and sociology, University of Latvia Martinson Kapranos, the Latvian television channel LTV and Latvian radio reported that the perception of Russia as a potential military threat in the Baltic countries also changed a lot.

In Latvia, the proportion of those in question, whether he considers Russia a military threat, replied “Yes” fell from 14% in 2015 to 11.2% in 2019, and “rather Yes” 29.5% to 26.1%. In Lithuania, these figures for the same years fell from 39.4% to 31.4% and from 21.8% to 12.9%, respectively. In Estonia, the percentage of those who definitely sees Russia as a threat, has slightly increased — from 20.2% to 20.3%, however, the answer is “probably Yes” were given far fewer people will be 26.5% compared to 38.4% in 2015.

Sobering sanctions

“The most important conclusion: in all the Baltic States there is a General process, namely the process of relaxation, and calming of public opinion in regard to the Russian-Ukrainian conflict and its consequences, including sanctions by the West against Russia”, — said in the air of LTV dynamics of public sentiment in the Baltic States, Martins Kapranos.

According to RT interviewed experts, one of the factors due to which the people of the Baltic States have a better to treat Russia was the deterioration of the economic situation in their countries amid the confrontation with Moscow.

“The sanctions of the Baltic States will not affect Russia, but the Russian sanctions seriously worsen their financial situation, cut jobs and budget revenues, said RT’s head of the Centre for post-Soviet studies of the Institute of Economics Leonid Vardomsky. Is their informed choice, the so-called European solidarity is a bit silly, but what can you do”.

That sanctions war has a negative impact on the Baltic economies, periodically declare and local policies.

In July last year ex-Minister of transport of Latvia Anrijs Matisse said that the deterioration of relations with Russia because of sanctions and counter-sanctions have a negative impact on the economy.

“If you take the transit industry, in recent years we have seen a substantial decline — by 30% due to these “economic wars”. Suffered also and the food industry”, — says the former official.

  • Riga sprats
  • RIA Novosti
  • © Maksim Blinov

According to him, the Latvian leaders are not able to change the geography and risk to continue to lose money because of possible Russia’s refusal to transit through as expands the ability of Russian ports Kaliningrad and St. Petersburg.


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In December 2018, the MEP and former President of Lithuania Rolandas Paksas has condemned Lithuania introduction of new sanctions against Russia after the incident in the Kerch Strait, called “psychosis” the rhetoric of the official Vilnius.

As for Estonia, in 2016 in an interview with TASS, the Minister of foreign Affairs of the Republic Marina Kaljurand said that anti-Russian sanctions “not go cheap” of Tallinn. Particularly, it noted restrictions on the export of agricultural products in our country.

According to Leonid Vardomskii, the authorities of the Baltic States went to these economic losses consciously, hoping that the EU will embrace them from their funds. But, says the expert, this is not happening.

“Thanks to the presidents and Prime Ministers Russophobia in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania —was the destruction of economic ties with Russia, which existed in the 1970-ies and 1980-ies. This process was painful for both sides. In the end, the side that is smaller (the Baltic States) are now suffering more,” — said in an interview with RT, the President of the Russian Association of Baltic studies, St. Petersburg state University Professor Irina Novikova doctor of history.

Power vs

If public opinion in the Baltic countries leaning towards a more moderate position towards Russia, the political elites of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia are not. In all three countries continue the offensive on the Russian language, occasionally catch the “Russian spies” and intelligence see much threat even in the visits of Russian sailing ships in the Baltic ports. Anti-Russian statements by the leaders of the Baltic are heard regularly.

  • The President Of Lithuania Dalia Grybauskaite
  • RIA Novosti

So, in February of 2019, the President of Lithuania Dalia Grybauskaite stated about the readiness to impose new sanctions against Russia.

11 March the President of Latvia Raimonds Vejonis called on European countries to unite to confront the “aggressive policy of Russia”. On the same day the government of Estonia has invited the radical party EKRE advocating for an open discrimination of Russian-speaking population, to enter the ruling coalition.


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On March 14, the President of Estonia Kersti Kaljulaid, speaking at the Brookings institution in Washington, urged NATO allies to unite in the face of possible aggression of Moscow.

March 15, Vilnius, Riga and Tallinn together with other countries in the EU introduced new restrictive measures against Russian citizens because of the incident in the Kerch Strait.

According to Leonid Vardomskii, the reason for this discrepancy, the official rhetoric of the Baltic countries and public sentiment is that the elite of all three countries do not listen to their own people, and prefer to act at the behest of Western patrons.

“The authorities of the Baltic countries carry out certain instructions from the outside, — the expert emphasizes. — And the fact that the economic situation of their countries is getting worse, they explain the machinations of Russia.”

On the other hand, according to him, the decline in the overall level of hostility to Russia in the Baltic countries — evidence of the failure of official anti-Russian course.

“To the public (regardless of propaganda) comes that Russophobic policy leads to the ruin of the Baltic States, and the government is important only to sit in their seats, why they need NATO troops,” — says the expert.

According to Nicholas Mezhevich, accusing Russia of all the troubles of the Baltic States cease to satisfy the local population.

“The Soviet regime was over 30 years ago in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, and the current political elite of the Baltic mill continues to blame their current problems Russia as a successor of the Soviet Union, — said the expert. — There is the authorities of these countries “children’s disease” when significant issues are selected universal explanations, which point in the direction of Moscow. And this is causing more problems and irritation among the local population. And when the citizens find their own answers, they see the cause of the people: presidents, Prime Ministers, Finance Ministers, heads of national banks and other authorities.”