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Baltic countries sustain huge economic losses from anti-Russian policies

Even though Russian counter-sanctions have hit the Baltic states harder than any other European countries, they stubbornly stick to their anti-Russian stance. To an extent this is a side effect of historical complexes that are strong enough to overpower any economic benefits and common sense.

The Baltic countries -- the strongest supporters of anti-Russian policies within the EU are paying dramatic costs in the war of sanctions. One year of Russian counter-sanctions has already cost Latvia nearly one billion euros, Latvia's European Parliament member, Andrey Mamykin, has said. The dairy and fish industries are the hardest-hit.

In neighboring Estonia and Lithuania the dairy industries, once a sample of quality and efficiency, are on the brink of collapse.

In Estonia, the price of milk has slumped 30%, below the profitability level. The condition of the milk industry in Lithuania is no better. Over six months the export of foods and farm produce to Russia plummeted more than 60%. No long-term substitutes for the Russian market have been identified. The Lithuanian farmers' incomes for milk sold in January through July 2015 were 30% below those in the same period last year.

The flow of Russian tourists to Latvia and Lithuania is running low. The tourist information bureau at Latvia's most popular resort of Yurmala says the number of Russian holiday-makers is down by a third. The exodus of Russia's musical and humor festivals due to the anti-Russian sentiment and the elite's general Russophobic attitude are the reason.

Emigration from the Baltic countries is growing. In January-June 22,600 people left Lithuania (in the same period of 2014, 17,000), and another 22,000 from Latvia.

"The current policies of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania are absolutely destructive and have no political realities whatsoever to rely on," the RuBaltic.Ru portal quotes the editor-in-chief of National Defence magazine, Igor Korotchenko, as saying. "By and large there are some unclear inferiority complexes and irrational insults, which in the modern world can only make one smile, although all this does spoil the climate of European relations somewhat."

"For their inferiority complexes, having deep historical roots, the Baltic countries are prepared to pay with their economic interests," the deputy chief of regional administration department at the presidential academy RANEPA, Vladimir Shtol said. "In some of these countries their leaders are not quite independent," he told TASS. "The very same can be observed in Ukraine and in Moldova. Just recently it could be seen in Georgia. That's a common feature of smaller countries following the breakup of a great empire."

As far as sanctions are concerned, it is true that the Baltic countries are affected more than any other in the current context. "Still they prefer to spearhead the anti-Russian crusade. Of the neophytes, in other words, of the countries that joined NATO after the breakup of the Soviet Union, Poland alone is probably more zealous in that respect."

"Matching the European old-timers in status for these countries is impossible, so anti-Russian rhetoric is the sole way in which they can demonstrate their significance and importance," Shtol said. "In relations with Russia they have a heavy historical burden, and this explains why they are so sensitive."

"They embarked on that path long ago. The anti-Russian component in the Baltic policies has been felt strongly for years," the chief of the European Security department at the Institute of Europe under the Russian Academy of Sciences, Dmitry Danilov, has said. "Even during the period of 'reset' in Russian-Wester relations they followed the harshest line possible in relations with Russia. These days the Baltic countries' stance is getting still harsher. Whereas in 2010 anti-Russian rhetoric was not a mainstream trend, now it has become the main Western policy vector. The Baltic harshness makes this anti-Russian flywheel spin ever faster."

[Source: Itar Tass, Moscow, 10Aug15]

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