Putin was Invited to Estonia

Kersti Kaljulaid, President of Estonia made an official invitation to President of Russia Vladimir Putin to visit her country and take part in the Congress of Finno-Ugric peoples. If V.Putin comes it will be the first officia…

Kersti Kaljulaid, President of Estonia made an official invitation to President of Russia Vladimir Putin to visit her country and take part in the Congress of Finno-Ugric peoples. If V.Putin comes it will be the first official visit of the head of Russia after collapse of the USSR.      
Russian media is delighted about this invitation and notes that this is a turning point in a negative attitude of the politicians of the Baltic States towards Russia. In their opinion, a symbolic impact of this visit shall be more important than its practical meaning. Pro-Kremlin news portal Sputnik made a bald statement that ‘this will mean that Baltic States ignore “Soviet occupation” and admit the fact that Russia will not pay anything and is not sorry about anything’.             
The 8 Congress of Finno-Ugric peoples will be held in Estonia on 8 June next year. Presidents of Hungary and Finland have also been invited to the Congress. The Congress will be held in Tartu.  
‘Thus, in order to continue a constructive discussion, which we hope will help our countries to understand each other better and improve good bilateral relations and also cooperation in the region of the Baltic Sea and international arena’,  President Kersti Kaljulaid made explanations about this invitation to the Russian President.  
Meanwhile Russian media emphasizes that this will be the first visit of the Russian President in the Baltic States after collapse of the USSR.
Russians note that the last Russian politician of such a scale, who visited the Baltic States, was Boris Yeltsin. He visited Estonia as Chairman of the Supreme Council of the Russian Federation. B. Yeltsin arrived to Tallinn on 13 January 1991. This was a symbolic day, just when the clash between soviet soldiers and civilians was taking place in Vilnius –  Red army soldiers were firing on the protestors and tried to disperse the protests by tanks.
In August 1991 B. Yeltsin as President of the USSR, visited Latvia, however the visit was not official. According to Russians it cannot be considered official. Since then almost 30 years have passed and not a single high rank Russian official visited the Baltic States.
Undoubtedly, worse relations with Moscow since the very beginning of independence of the Baltic States were much to do about this. At first the Kremlin did not want to recognize the European striving of the Baltic nations and then decided that the issue of the Baltic States is not so important and it is not worth paying such a bit attention on a high level as in relations with Germany or Brussels.    
The best proof of that is the fact that the West maintains relations with President of Russia at the level of Presidents and Prime Ministers and with Middle and Eastern Europe countries, which are more critical about the Kremlin policy – at the level of ministers and Deputy Ministers.
Moscow is annoyed of the approach of the Baltic States about the latest history of the region and historic narrative. The Baltic nations strongly support their position and claim that year 1940 is the beginning of countries’ occupation, which ended with a short break when Germans occupied their countries, only after 1989 when the Baltic States restored their independence. The contemporary Russia does not admit annexation as occupation of the Baltic States by the USSR and claim that the Baltic nations themselves wanted to join the USSR.   
Cold relations with Moscow also were encumbered by the issue of Russian-speaking people living in these countries. Latvia and Estonia, where they constituted almost half of the population, restricted granting of citizenship to them. Lithuania chose a different way, however in Lithuania Russian-speaking people constituted just a few percent and Lithuanians decided that such a number does not cause any threat to a young statehood and granted the citizenship to Russian-speaking people without any conditions. Latvia and Estonia had a fair that these people can start dominating in political life and orient them towards Russia.      
During these almost 30 years there were times of “warmer” relations. During these warmer periods heads of the Baltic States visited Russia and invited Russian politicians to visit their states.  
In 2011 Dmitry Medvedev, President of that time, was preparing for the visit to Latvia. However, the visit was postponed. Russians were telling that they didn’t like the fact that Latvians wanted to talk about Soviet occupation and its consequences and they didn’t want to talk about rights of the Russian-speaking people living there.    
After Russia occupied Crimea of Ukraine and supported a rebellion in Donbass, Baltic States denounced Russia and supported Ukraine.
The meeting of Presidents in April did not bring any practical use, however it had a great propagandistic effect.
This visit displeased Linas Linkevičius, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Lithuania.
Lithuanian Minister announced that he had not been informed about thas visit or the subject-matter of the conversation with President of Russia. He also added that three Baltic States should coordinate such diplomatic steps. ‘If we coordinate our steps and act together, such actions will always be more efficient, moreover, there have always been attempts to destroy unanimity of the Baltic States and Europe’, the Minister made comments to the news agency BNS. L. Linkevičius did not want to make detailed comments of the meeting of presidents; however he added that ‘It is very important for Russia to show that it is not isolated and to make the impression of good relations. Such visits contribute to such narratives’, the Minister noted.    
The Kremlin propaganda used the reaction of L. Linkevičius and stated with satisfaction that unanimity of the Baltic States is not the matter of principle to Estonia. They also accused Lithuania and Latvia of insufficient appraisal of a potential visit of the President of Russia as a very important symbol. Russian commentators also came to a conclusion that Estonia’s support to Ukraine is not absolute and the state is ready to improve relations with its Eastern neighbour in sacrifice of the issue of Ukraine.      
In comments Russians reasserted the fair of the Lithuanian minister. In their opinion if President of Estonia visits the Kremlin, then she will not be able to require sanctions against Russia as a result of Crimea and encourage Western leaders have no visits to Moscow.  
The Russian propagandistic portal Sputnik notes that invitation of V. Putin and his potential visit in Tallinn will mean that the Baltic nations want to end ‘their fight for recognition of Soviet occupation in their states’. ‘Estonia buries the hatchet to this history and shows it understood there will be no admittance, apologies and no compensation from Russia’. On the other hand, the portal rubaltic.ru notes that a chance that Russia will admit occupation of at least one of the Baltic States is equal to zero.     
‘Baltic States might be mad about this as much as they wish, however their choice is simple. Either they establish normal relations with their Eastern neighbour or will further band their heads against the brick wall waiting for money from Russia as a compensation for occupation’.     
By the way, the portal also notes that the visit of the President of Russia in Tallinn may also have an economic impact, since Russia will start export of its goods through ports in Estonia.  

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