Pro-Kremlin outlets “predict” coronavirus-driven economic collapse of the Baltic countries

As the Baltic states went into quarantine, pro-Kremlin media predicted the crash of their economies.

Pro-Kremlin media outlets routinely push various narratives targeting the Baltic states; usually, these narratives accuse them of Russophobia, or describe them as aggressive. As COVID-19 puts pressure on the world’s economic system, however, these outlets have shifted their attention, publishing stories that claim the coronavirus is going to destroy the Baltic economies and undo their decades of post-Soviet progress.

Most of the surfaced stories appeared on media outlets primarily targeting a Baltic audience, such as RuBaltic.ru and BaltNews. The DFRLab identified four main narratives focusing on economic issues.

1. The Baltic states’ economies are going to collapse because of the coronavirus.

One of the most prevailing narratives circulating in pro-Kremlin media outlets claimed that Eastern European countries will face a severe blow to their economies as a result of COVID-19, with the “peripheral eastern regions of the European Union” — the Baltic countries — suffering most of all. Some of the stories claimed that the total damage to the Baltic states’ economies will equal the entire annual budget of one of the three countries. Other stories cherrypicked negative forecasts of economic doom from Baltic economists. Most of these reports stated that the last time the Baltic economies were hit so hard was the 2008 global financial crisis.

2. Russia will cut vital transit income for the Baltic countries.

Another prominent narrative claimed that Russia will cut vital transit income from the Baltic countries and predicted that the effects would be devastating. The stories argued that existing trade routes between the Baltic states and Russia are critical for both parties. The first articles, which surfaced in early March, stated that Russia was losing interest in the Baltic ports and diverting cargo elsewhere. On March 22, articles surfaced that alleged the pandemic will be the final blow to these ports’ economic health.

3. Coronavirus will make the Baltic economies turn back toward Russia.

The third identified narrative argued that the Baltic economies will have to turn back toward Russia again due to the pandemic. In most of the stories, an “expert” named Alexander Nosovich was quoted. The stories claimed that the European Union was doing nothing to help the Baltic region; as a result, the Baltic states will have to turn back toward the Russian market soon, even if doing so will force them to “stop being Russophobic.” The most-read story was published on March 24 and argued that Latvia would have to rekindle its strategic cooperation with Russia due to the economic strain brought on by the outbreak.

4. The Baltic countries are quarreling with their closest allies.

The last narrative that the DFRLab identified claimed that the Baltic countries were arguing with their closest allies: the members of the transatlantic alliance. Some stories claimed that relations were strained with Poland because of the latter’s strict quarantine measures. Other stories targeted relations with the European Union, claiming that Brussels had cared for the “New Europe” for too long and would no longer make sacrifices for the sake of the Baltic countries. Lastly, some stories claimed that the Baltic states would lose the support of their main patron, the United States, due to COVID-19. According to this narrative, the U.S. was preoccupied with its own outbreak, and thus would not be able to care for the Baltic economies or security. This narrative argued that the fact that U.S. President Donald Trump asked Russian President Vladimir Putin for humanitarian assistance amid the pandemic revealed that the United States was willing to choose cooperation with Russia over providing support to the Baltic states.

2 Comments

  1. Stephanie Stephanie Sunday, April 12, 2020

    1. That is also being said about the economies of other countries as well. In the US, economists are predicting that it will be worse than 2008, maybe even a depression like l929 with millions unemployed.

    2. Why wouldn’t Russia look for other transit routes? All the Baltics have been doing is castigating Russia , letting NATO prepare for war against it on their soil.

    3. How much has the EU or US been helping the Baltics or other EU countries? Italy and Spain, as well as other countries (even the US) have been happy to accept the aid offered them by Russia and evil China.
    When Lithuania still had good relations with Russia, what was their economy like? At a presentation in May, 2013, the now President (then director of SEB Bank), Nauseda, had predicted growth of over 12% for the coming year.. There was significant trade with Russia, minimal with US. What happened in February, 2014, that changed it all? Remember the US coup in Ukraine and sanctions against Russia? All the US vassals went along to the detriment of their economies.

    4. This is true as it is also reported in US. German, UK news. Has the US really cared for any country other than if it can be used for some US purpose? Read the true history.
    Reminder-how did the Baltics and Poland become part of the USSR? US president Roosevelt “gave” them to Stalin in exchange for his help fighting the Japanese in the Pacific. He said that these countries had previously been part of the Russian Empire. Churchill was opposed but he had no clout. Britain was devastated. Roosevelt was the president of the only country that was still standing and manufacturing! He held the power!

    It may be too late to turn back to Russia even if these countries wanted to.

  2. Stephanie Stephanie Sunday, April 12, 2020

    Addendum:

    The author’s position as an Associate Director at the Atlantic Council should have been noted . The Atlantic Council gets most of its funding from NATO and weapons manufacturers and is an anti-Russia organization. Its existence is dependent on casting Russia as the enemy. If NATO was dissolved, as it should have been, it would have no purpose to exist.
    Lukas Andriukaitis is unbiased?
    “He who pays the fiddler, calls the tune”!! This was told to me by a disillusioned intern at another “think tank” in DC.
    No one pays me for my opinions or comments!

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