Russia will review the Soviet Union’s recognition of the independence granted to Baltic states nearly 25 years ago, local media reported.
A source familiar with the situation reportedly told Interfax Tuesday that Russia’s prosecutor general began checking whether Russia’s recognition of independence of the Baltics was legal, according to various media reports citing Interfax. The Baltic nations -- Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania -- were members of the Soviet Union before it collapsed in 1991.
Last week, Russia’s chief prosecutor declared that the transfer of Crimea from Russia to Ukraine in 1954 was illegal. Crimea was annexed by Russia in 2014, and then voted to rejoin the nation in a referendum vote that drew international condemnation.
Interfax reported that the inquiry into the Baltics was launched after requests from two deputies in the Russian parliament, and added that even if the recognition were found to be unlawful, there would be no legal consequences to the Baltic states.
The region has been on high alert amid increasing perceived military provocations from Moscow, including a number of incursions into their airspace and military build-up along the border. Growing tensions between Russia and the West, over the crisis in eastern Ukraine, have also seen a growing NATO presence in the region, which has played host to major war games as well.
Moscow, for its part, has also held major military exercises along the border and has expressed discontent over the growing NATO presence. A Russian official warned last week that if the Baltic states hosted a planned NATO anti-missile shield, the nations could find themselves being “targets.”
Responding to the most recent move from Moscow, Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevičius called it “a provocation to say the least” and “legally, morally and politically absurd,” according to the BBC.
However, Russia’s Chief of Staff Sergei Ivanov on Tuesday refuted worries that Russia might be a threat to the Baltics, calling it "nothing but raving nonsense."
"We are talking about an elephant and a pug, a behemoth and a house cat. That is the comparability of our military budgets. We have very different military assets, but the most important question is, why would we do this? Do you seriously think that we want to unleash war with NATO? Are we suicidal?," he asked, according to Sputnik.