By Paige Hymson
Amidst the crisis in Ukraine, many former Soviet nations fear Russia’s next moves. Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia are feeling anxious about possible Russian expansionism. The three Baltic countries hope to reduce their dependency on Russia’s energy and natural gas supply. The nations worry that their current reliance on Russia for all of their natural gas will be corrupted because of the situation in Ukraine. They all also have strong trade ties to Russia.
All three nations joined NATO in 2004, and are part of the European Union. They are currently relying on NATO military support to heighten their defense security. The U.S deployed six warplanes in Lithuania this week, to expand security efforts in the nation. Lithuania, in particular, worries about Russian intervention, as it was the first republic to declare independence from the Soviet Union in 1990. But now all three countries are planning on increasing defense spending, as they continue to fear that they may be next after Crimea.
Even before the crisis in Ukraine, the Baltic region was feeling nervous about Russia. Last year, NATO sent jets more than 40 times to check on Russian jets that were approaching the Baltic borders. Now, with Russia’s intervention into Crimea, the Baltic region has even further reasons to fear Russia. Ethnic Russians make up a significant portion of the Estonian and Latvian populations, while Lithuania has a much smaller percentage. Yet the three Baltic nations alike have been speaking out against Russia’s entry into Ukraine, and hope to never succumb to Russian rule once again.