By a show of hands, who thinks Vladimir Putin is going to stop with Ukraine? Once his taste for blood leaves him craving more, he’ll flaunt his Army of robotic-like soldiers in front of Russia’s next defenseless victim, and this is of great concern to the neighboring Baltic States.
Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania have been paying close attention to every episode of the unfolding series. Especially for those old enough to remember life under Soviet rule, what they see coming is particularly disturbing. They remember oppression, mass deportations of citizens to who knows where, and the dark depressive days and nights when nary a word was spoken in fear of mysteriously ‘disappearing.’
A resident of Lithuania’s capital city of Vilnius, 50-year-old Jaunius Kazlauskas is a teacher. “My grandparents were sent away to Siberia. My father was persecuted by the KGB. I live in a free democratic country, but it seems that nothing can be taken for granted,” he said.
The very moment Putin gave the green light for his troops to kill, torture, and rape Ukrainians, children not excluded, Lithuania declared a nationwide state of emergency. Latvia immediately cut off all broadcasts from Russian TV stations not wishing to subject its citizens to the propaganda and disinformation the Kremlin-controlled media would be hoping they’d swallow.
The three Baltic states declared their independence in 1991 with the fall of the Soviet Union. Joseph Stalin had claimed the countries as his during WWII when the soviet military planted the flag of communism in their front yards.
In 2004, all three swore their allegiance to NATO and were welcomed into the clan. The nations have the assurance of protection from the U.S. and its brotherhood of allies. Ukraine doesn’t have the same protection as they weren’t invited in until recently, and Putin is doing all he can to see that this doesn’t happen.
But here’s the problem. Because NATO has already sent Ukraine a welcome package, there’s already somewhat of an obligation to prove its worth. They need to walk the walk, and this includes you, me, and the rest of us Americans sitting on this side of the pond.
Should the Russians succeed in overtaking Ukraine, Putin will grow fangs and start howling at the moon. It’ll strengthen Russia’s prowess and they’d like nothing better than to get those three pesky NATO neighbors out of their hair by taking them down also.
As it stands now, the Baltic states are way too close for comfort. If Putin can do it quick enough, he can catch NATO off guard. It could all be over by the time they even get there.
Leaders in all three nations have already pleaded with NATO to get to Ukraine as quickly as possible before the Russians roll their tanks into their countries, which they know will happen unless met with strong resistance.
In a joint conference between Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis and U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, Landsbergis told it like it is. “The battle for Ukraine is a battle for Europe. If Putin is not stopped there, he will go further.”
We won’t go as far as to call this the start of WWIII just yet, but it’s as close as the world has ever been. Buckle up, kiddos. Gonna be a bumpy ride.