Staunton, November 21 – In the BBC interview in which he said Moscow wants “a 100 percent guarantee” that Ukraine will not become a member of NATO, Vladimir Putin’s press secretary also said that if radical nationalists came to power in Riga and if Brussels recognized that as it did in Ukraine, then “Latvian citizens of Russian origin would rise in revolt.”
Dmitry Peskov’s remarks about Latvia have attracted less attention than his comments about Ukraine, but they may be even more dangerous because they suggest that Moscow has worked out a scenario under the terms of which it might create a situation in a current NATO country and then exploit it.
Given that Moscow used its unilateral description of what happened at the time of the Maidan as an anti-constitutional and anti-democratic coup to justify its moves first in Crimea and then in the Donbas, Peskov’s words suggest that at least some in the Kremlin are thinking about using the same strategy in Latvia.
And that in turn means that Moscow could very well portray any changes in Latvia, however democratically arrived at, as constituting the change in government that it might then invoke to support a rising by ethnic Russians there and a subsequent “hybrid” intervention by the Russian government in support of them.
“If someone organizes a government coup in Latvia and then Brussels as it did [in Ukraine] recognizes this coup, there will be a serious danger,” Peskov said. “Each country must be very careful, each country must defend its interests in such a way that it will not permit this to happen” (bbc.co.uk/russian/international/2014/11/141119_peskov_bbc_interview).
In taking note of Peskov’s words, Latvian foreign ministry spokesman Karlis Eichenbaums said that it is clear that “logical thought and clarity of expression were not the qualities taken into consideration” when Putin selected Peskov as his spokesman (rus.delfi.lv/news/daily/latvia/peskov-v-latvii-vozmozhen-gosudarstvennyj-perevorot.d?id=45244378).