A Troubling Thought - April 2014
In his recent address to the Federal Assembly at the Kremlin, President Vladimir Putin proffered, without mincing words, his justification for Russia's annexation of the Crimean Peninsula. He spoke of sinister forces he assertedly discerned behind those currently forming the government in Kiev, calling them nationalists, Russo-phobes, neo-Nazis and anti-Semites. He insisted that they have foreign sponsors and mentors and that there is "no legitimate executive authority in Ukraine now". He maintains that in this atmosphere, the residents of Crimea "turned to Russia for protection" and that the Kremlin could not abandon them and had to help them hold a referendum.
The way he talked about Ukraine opened up a strong possibility that he may want to offer "protection" on the mainland, too, at least in the Eastern and Southern parts that are predominantly Russian-speaking. Tens of thousands of Russian troops are already amassed along the border, only waiting for the signal to move in. Clearly, this has other former Soviet Republics worried, from Moldova to Belarus and the Baltic states Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia. There are those who say that Putin would never dare touch the Baltic countries, since they are members of NATO and as such subject to the protections of Article V, which says that an attack on one member is tantamount to an assault on all. Hence, NATO in this case would be compelled to take military action. MORE>>