Comment by the Information and Press Department on the 80th anniversary of the incorporation of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia into the Soviet Union
The ruling circles of the Baltic countries continue their attempts to promote a lopsided interpretation of the events related to the incorporation of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia into the Soviet Union 80 years ago.
The Russian position on this matter is well known. It is based on an objective assessment of historical realities and a careful analysis of those events with reliance on archival documents and facts.
In June 1940, becoming aware of the truly real threat of Nazi Germany using the Baltics as a bridgehead for the invasion of the Soviet Union, Moscow had to deploy more troops in Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia in addition to the forces stationed there under the 1939 mutual assistance agreements. In itself, this measure, which was taken with approval by the Baltic countries’ authorities, was legitimate and did not amount to the transfer of sovereignty over their territories to the Soviet Union. The subsequent incorporation of the Baltic countries into the Soviet Union was not unilateral either but was carried out by mutual agreement.
The outcome of the July 1940 parliamentary elections in Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia was a natural reaction of the overwhelming majority of voters to support their countries’ incorporation into the Soviet Union, which they saw as the only power capable of resisting a Nazi aggression. History has shown that the Soviet Union prevented the implementation of Hitler’s plans to turn the Baltics into a raw materials appendage of the Third Reich as set out in the Generalplan Ost (Master Plan for the East) and other documents of Nazi Germany. Under the plan, which was implemented up until 1944, the Baltic population was to be enslaved, Germanised and partially exterminated. In 1944 ̶ 1945, the Baltic peoples, along with the other nations of Europe, were liberated by Soviet soldiers, quite a few of them Latvians, Lithuanians and Estonians, thousands of whom perished in the process of doing this.
The allegation of the “occupation” of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia by the Soviet Union in 1940, which the ruling Baltic elites are actively promoting, contradicts the interpretation of this legal term accepted in that period. The Soviet Union and the Baltic countries were not at war with each other, and the communications addressed to them by Moscow did not include a threat of war.
Regarding the international recognition of the incorporation of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia into the Soviet Union, the agreements on the post-war structure of Europe reached by the leaders of the anti-Hitler coalition in Tehran, Yalta and Potsdam did not question this fact. The matter was laid to rest in 1975 by the Final Act of the Conference on Security and Cooperation in Europe (Helsinki Final Act).
According to the 1999 pilot project of the Council of Europe on state practice regarding state succession and issues of recognition, the majority of states recognised de facto the incorporation of the Baltic States into the Soviet Union, and some of them confirmed this recognition de jure in their official correspondence.
It should be noted that the recognition of the Baltic states’ incorporation in 1940 as illegitimate would have put in question the consequences of this incorporation, for example, the addition to the Lithuanian Soviet Socialist Republic of territories which were not part of pre-war Lithuania and which the modern-day Republic of Lithuania has inherited (Vilnius, the Vilnius Territory and Klaipeda).
It is noteworthy that throughout their history as constituent republics of the Soviet Union, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia had their national governments, were presented in the supreme Soviet state authorities and had all the necessary conditions for the preservation and development of their national languages and culture, and that until the Soviet Union’s dissolution in 1991, the Baltic countries had been, through the assistance of the central Soviet authorities, among the best economically developed and prosperous regions of the Soviet Union.
Therefore, the “occupation doctrine” of the Vilnius, Riga and Tallinn authorities is a purely political project aimed at advancing all manner of claims to the Russian Federation and at falsifying that period of history.