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Moscow Plans To ‘Export Separatism’ To Baltic Countries? – OpEd


Moscow analyst Yury Khristenzen says that Moscow plans to “export separatism” across the entire former Soviet space, including Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania to break those countries to its will, confident that it can do so because the West will not be willing to go to war against a nuclear power to defend them.

In the third and concluding part of his survey of Russia’s wars, Khristenzen argues that the Kremlin “has drawn a red line on the border of the former USSR and identified [as its priority targets] those countries closest mentally, linguistically and in terms of religion” (

As evidence of this, he points to the following: At the end of 2013, shortly before Moscow’s Anschluss of Crimea, Tamara Guzenkova, the deputy director of the influential Russian Institute for Strategic Studies, told a group in Moscow: “You can’t even imagine how far we can go in order to preserve our positions in Ukraine.”

And Khristenzen insists that it is not a matter of NATO bases on Russia’s borders given that “no one will fight with a nuclear power,” a reality that the Kremlin can use against all and sundry. But among the most important weapons in Moscow’s arsenal are plans to create “peoples republics” within these countries of interest as a basis for projecting Russian power.

Many associate this idea with Vladimir Putin, but in fact, it has a long history extending back at least to August 1991 when supporters of the coup against Gorbachev planned to form such “peoples republics” in Estonia and Latvia in order to block their recovery of national independence.

This plan was described by Viktor Alksnis, a member of the Union group of the USSR Supreme Soviet, who said this was the application of a more general principle that the coup organizers had come up with ( and

The defeat of the coup, Western pressure and the extension of NATO membership to the three Baltic countries prevented Moscow from carrying out these plans. But as Khristenzen notes, “Moldova, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Ukraine” remain in significantly more difficult situations.

And he argues that the Kremlin has only delayed but not cancelled its plans to use this tactic even against the Baltic states. “In the event of the weakening of the US and the EU, it is completely possible that a Narva, Khokhta-Yavelskaya, Shlachininkaiskaya or other ‘peoples republics’ will appear on their territories.”

Paul Goble

Paul Goble is a longtime specialist on ethnic and religious questions in Eurasia. Most recently, he was director of research and publications at the Azerbaijan Diplomatic Academy. Earlier, he served as vice dean for the social sciences and humanities at Audentes University in Tallinn and a senior research associate at the EuroCollege of the University of Tartu in Estonia. He has served in various capacities in the U.S. State Department, the Central Intelligence Agency and the International Broadcasting Bureau as well as at the Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Mr. Goble maintains the Window on Eurasia blog and can be contacted directly at [email protected] .

One thought on “Moscow Plans To ‘Export Separatism’ To Baltic Countries? – OpEd

  • January 13, 2017 at 4:38 pm

    Good article!
    Not Khokhta-Yavelskaya People Republic, but Kohtla-Yarveskaja, because the name of the city at the East of Estonia is Kohtla-Yarve (Kohtla Lake in English).


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