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Unofficial translation from Russian

Comments by the Russian Foreign Ministry Information and Press Department in Connection with Remarks by Some European Politicians Regarding the "Occupation" of the Baltic Countries by the Soviet Union and the Need for Russia to Condemn This


913-04-05-2005

Question: Russia has recently been under growing pressure to recognize and condemn the "occupation" of the Baltic countries in 1940 and to assume responsibility for this. What is the Russian position in this connection?

Answer: The Russian position on the issue has been repeatedly put forward and remains unchanged. Neither the introduction of additional Red Army units nor the accession of the Baltic states to the Soviet Union contradicted the provisions of international law that were in effect at the time.

Thus, in accordance with the international legal doctrine of the mid-20th century, "occupation" meant the acquisition by a state of uninhabited territory that did not previously belong to any state by establishing effective control over it with intent to spread its sovereignty to it. In addition, the term meant temporary occupation during the course of an armed conflict by the army of one of the warring states of the territory (or part of the territory) of another state.

The term "occupation" cannot be used for a legal assessment of the situation in the Baltics in the late 1930s because there was no state of war between the USSR and the Baltic states and no military actions were being conducted, and the troops were introduced on the basis of an agreement and with the express consent of the authorities that existed in these republics at the time -- whatever one may think of them. In addition, throughout the period when Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia were part of the Soviet Union, there were national bodies of power, with the exception of the time when that part of the USSR territory was occupied by Germany during the Great Patriotic War. And it is known that it was these authorities -- again, regardless of how one may assess them today -- as represented by the Supreme Soviets of the corresponding republics, that made decisions in 1990 that led to their secession from the USSR. So, if one were to question the legitimacy of the power bodies of the Soviet period, the question arises of the legitimacy of the promulgation of independence by the Baltic republics.

Accordingly, any claims, including demands for material compensation for alleged damage which, as some think, was the result of what happened in 1940, are without grounds.

Meanwhile, attempts to put the policy of the USSR during that period on the same footing as the actions of Hitler Germany which was waging an aggressive war in Europe in order to enslave or destroy entire peoples, are absurd if only due to the obvious fact that it was above all through the efforts of the USSR that Hitler Germany was defeated and Europe was rid of Nazism. Such insinuations have a particularly blasphemous ring on the eve of the 60th anniversary of the Great Victory.

As for the assessment of the repressive actions of the regime that existed in the USSR in the 1930s-1950s, it has been repeatedly given both by the Soviet Union and by Russia. Moscow does not see any sense in revisiting the issue. If somebody is trying to turn it today into real politics, this is an attempt to speculate on memory for the sake of political expediency.