Fear and Vindication

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Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania have become the first European countries to cut off gas imports from Russia, a move that seeks to curtail Russian President Vladimir Putin’s main revenue source.

Lithuania described the move as a “response to Russia’s energy blackmail in Europe,” reported the Associated Press, alluding to Putin’s expectation that Western Europe’s dependence on Russian energy would make the continent’s leaders reluctant to challenge his brutal invasion of Ukraine. Germany and other major economies are contemplating ending their imports but can’t do so immediately due to a lack of alternatives.

It’s no surprise that the Baltic states are at the diplomatic forefront of punishing their overbearing neighbor, Russia. The three NATO members, all former Soviet republics, have resisted Moscow’s rule since former Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin absorbed them during World War II. For years, they have been combating Russian misinformation and efforts to stir up unrest among their Russian-speaking citizens. The war in Ukraine has vindicated their fears.

“For years, they have raised the alarm that Russia is their most existential threat,” wrote NBC News. “Yet, they feel they received little response prior to the invasion of Ukraine.”

Now, Washington Post columnist Michael Gerson is warning that Putin might invade the Baltics next. Exiled Russian oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky, formerly the richest man in Russia, shares that view. Jailed for nine years on charges of financial crimes he said were politically motivated, Khodorkovsky now believes Putin has gone insane and has no compunctions about waging a war against NATO, starting with the Baltics, according to Insider.

Each of the three countries has unique experiences with the crisis, of course.

Estonian officials are working overtime to find accommodations for Ukrainian war refugees. None will go without lodging, they said, according to Estonian Public Broadcasting.

Latvian lawmakers banned the use of the ‘Z’ or ‘V’ symbols that Russian leaders have come to identify with the Ukrainian invasion, reported Euronews. People found guilty of violating the law face fines of as much as $380 while businesses may be fined as much as $3,160.

Lithuanians are expressing outrage over reports that Russian troops kidnapped and killed filmmaker Mantas Kvedaravičius, who was thought to have been killed in fighting near Mariupol, Ukraine, Lithuanian National Radio and Television wrote.

But Lithuanians were also prepared for the crisis. Eight years ago, for example, the country built a floating liquified natural gas facility that allows them to receive gas from other sources in case Russia attempted to weaponize its energy exports, the Hill noted. They’ll soon be heating their homes with American and Norwegian energy.

Three different experiences. One common sense of outrage.

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