Recently the Russian foreign intelligence service claimed that Great Britain and the USA reacted with understanding to the 1940 Soviet occupation and 1944 re occupation of the Baltic States.
The SVR had uncovered documents which indicated that the occupation of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania was seen by the West as an unavoidable consequence in opposing Nazi Germany’s aggression.
Use of the word “occupation” in reference to the 1940 invasion and forcible annexation of the three countries and the 1944 victory over German occupation forces and the countries’ resultant captivity by the Soviets has been deemed blasphemy in Russia.
The current revelations have seemingly betrayed Moscow’s subconscious understanding and perception of a deeply contentious issue that sets the emotional tone for relations with Lithuania, and especially Latvia and Estonia.
Indeed, why would the documents be a sensation had the Soviets held the 1940 aggression to be a friendly invitation by the Baltic states and the 1944 invasion to be a genuine “liberation” and perceived as such by Washington and London?
Put in other words, why would the Soviets accuse Great Britain and the USA of mutual culpability and time the release of the documents’ discovery just prior to the NATO summit in Riga if Moscow doesn’t genuinely see the 1940 illegal annexation and the post 1944 Soviet period to be one of the USSR’s aggression and repression? Why invoke western guilt if there’s nothing to be guilty about?
The issue is the basis for Russia’s refusal to sign a border treaty with Estonia because the preamble, authored by Estonia’s parliament makes a clear reference to Soviet occupation. The crucial principle of the continuity de jure of the Republic of Estonia, as recognized by Western countries throughout the Soviet period and as the basis for the re-establishment of Estonia’s sovereignty de facto, has always been rejected by Moscow. The issue of Estonian citizenship being derived from pre-war citizenship or through the process of qualification and naturalization, and not automatically being granted to any resident is irksome to Russia, a target of practically daily accusations, and also directly related to denial of foreign occupation. Most recently the controversy surrounding the removal or relocation of the Soviet monument at Tõnismäe is one of the most emotional charged disputes – also directly tied in to the question of Soviet occupation. These are only a few of the issues which are affected by the repudiation of the occupation.
While the SVR discovery is nothing new and the historic circumstances have been visited by numerous historians, the Russian intelligence researchers admit to contradiction in the documents. In fact there should be plenty of conflicting documents. Just retrieving the US Undersecretary of State Sumner Welles’ official statement of July 23, 1940 following the Soviet invasion of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania:
“During the past few days the devious processes where under the political independence and territorial integrity of the three small Baltic republics – Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania were to be deliberately annihilated by one of their more powerful neighbours, have been rapidly drawing to their conclusion. ... The policy of this Government is universally known. The people of the United States are opposed to predatory activities no matter whether they are carried on by the use of force or by the threat of force. They are likewise opposed to any form of intervention on the part of one state, however powerful, in the domestic concerns of any other sovereign state, however weak. The United States will continue to stand by these principles...”
This was the beginning of the non-recognition policy of the annexation of the Baltic States. Most western countries adopted it and maintained it until the re establishment of Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian independence.
ESTONIAN CENTRAL COUNCIL IN CANADA - LL
“Occupation”: a Freudian slip or unintentional acknowledgement? (14)