RUSSIA is a threat to the survival of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, MPs were told yesterday.
Ambassadors for the three Baltic countries who border Russia told the Westminster defence committee they believed Kremlin troops were poised for an attack.
Latvian ambassador Baiba Braze told the committee that there had been a big increase in operations close to her country’s border.
“Those are assault capabilities,” she told the MPs, “they are not defensive capabilities.”
She added: “In the western military district there are more than 100,000 Russian soldiers, which is far beyond what would be necessary for a defence effort of the Russian Federation.
The committee were hearing from the diplomats as part of an inquiry into the UK’s future defence needs.
Currently, there about 800 British soldiers stationed in Estonia, they form part of a Nato “trip wire” along the eastern border.
Lithuanian ambassador Renatus Norkus (pictured) said: “Although the Baltic states have political will to defend themselves – and we will be defending ourselves – it will be a huge mess if something happens.”
All three Baltic countries rebuffed Moscow’s offer of security to become members of Nato and the European Union. They told MPs they believed Russia resented the freedoms enjoyed by the Baltic states since their independence, won 100 years ago, lost in 1940 and regained in 1991.
Braze told the committee: “[Russia] has the right to develop its own internal systems and economic road the way it wants. What it cannot do is threaten and invade other countries.”
SNP member of the committee, Martin Docherty-Hughes MP told The National: “The threats they are facing underline why I and my colleagues in Westminster have found it very important to speak up about the threat that Russia poses to the international rules-based system: because after all, something that is a threat to one small northern European state is a threat to them all. I think there is so much that we can learn from the independent peoples of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, especially in areas around nation-building and security: I hope Scotland will be joining them soon.”