Staunton, January 23 — Following the “tectonic” shifts in the world that Russia’s moves in Ukraine began, the leaders of the Baltic countries must recognize “the need to have a dialogue with Russia,” the head of the Moscow Institute for the Russian Abroad says. If they don’t, others who are ready to do so “will be found.”
In an interview with Rubaltic.ru, a portal directed at Russian speakers in the Baltic countries, Sergey Panteleyev says Moscow wasn’t strong enough “at the end of the 1980s and beginning of the 1990s” to hold the Balts in but now that the same thing is happening in Ukraine, Russia has the power to do so.
The Baltic actions were “more or less peaceful,” he continues, “but in Ukraine everything is taking place in a bloody way. Why? Because Russia has come to be reborn, its civilizational ambitions have appeared, and they are expressed in the conception of ‘the Russian world,’ which is oriented toward our compatriots, friend, and partners living beyond the borders of the present-day Russian state.”
Russia’s newly expressed imperial ambitions, Panteleyev continues, have frightened many, particular in the Baltic countries. “One can recall the parallels drawn between Latgale [in southeastern Latvia] and the Donbas and Crimea [in Ukraine],” parallels that reflect what he called “the peaceful and beautiful ideas directed at the solidarity of people, patriotism and unity.”
“I would say,” Panteleyev adds, “that the ideas of the conception of ‘the Russian world’ are directed at universal values, which really unite people and do not divide them by race or nationality. They unite cultures.” But it is certainly true, he says, that “this idea is horrific for those who consider Waffen SS veterans to be heroes.”
One thing that the Ukrainian events have demonstrated, Panteleyev says, is that knowledge of the Russian language is not enough to make one part of the Russian world. Many who speak Russian in Ukraine are fighting pro-Moscow groups, and many Baltic leaders speak good Russian but are nonetheless hostile to Russia and the Russian world.
But that does not mean that the Russian world is not something real or that Moscow will not continue to struggle for its unity, he suggests. And those who “by struggling with Russians and with Russians” insist on “an alternative point of view” are “laying a serious mine in their own foundations.”
“In the course of the last year,” Panteleyev says, “we became convinced that the world which was created after the disintegration of the USSR … has begun to collapse.” That world was predicated on Russia being a raw material supplier which would never insist on the advancement of its own interests.
But “in fact, a miracle occurred,” Panteleyev says. And the world “took note that Russia is being reborn and is reminding everyone about its own legitimate interests. We have seen serious geopolitical changes, noted how Russia has changed its behavior, and how it is ready to revive good relations with old allies and establish new unions including BRICS.”
“I am certain,” the Moscow official says, “that we are at the very beginning of a tectonic process of contemporary world construction.” This process will take time given that it involved “changes in world leadership.” And the Baltic countries and specifically their elites “who continue to take extreme anti-Russian and pro-Western positions in that way cut themselves off from the chance of dialogue with the current Russian state.”
But “in the context of such global changes,” Panteleyev says, “all the same, other people who will recognize the need for conducting a dialogue with Russia will be found. They will recognize that there are demographic, cultural and historical ties from which there is nowhere to go and which must be restored.”