By Paul Goble
Many observers were surprised when the first list of countries the Russian government considers unfriendly to Russia had only two states on it, the Czech Republic and the United States. But officials say Moscow is ready to add the Baltic countries, Poland, Ukraine and Georgia to the list on the basis of what they have already done.
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov says that Russia is quite prepared to extend the list to include these and possibly other states; and Vasily Piskaryev, deputy head of the Duma Commission on Foreign Interference in Russian Internal Affairs, says they are already engaged in such interference on a “non-stop” basis (rubaltic.ru/article/politika-i-obshchestvo/20210521-rossiya-sdelala-shag-k-priznaniyu-stran-pribaltiki-nedruzhestvennymi/).
One event that may be a trigger for Lithuania is the upcoming meeting of the Free Russia Forum in Vilnius. Latvia is in the crosshairs because of its hosting of the Meduza internet portal. And Estonia is as well both for its hosting of NATO institutions and its outreach to Finno-Ugric and other non-Russian groups in Russia.
Poland, Ukraine and Georgia also are involved in outreach efforts Moscow objects to, and so the list of unfriendly countries almost certainly is going to expand to include some or all of these six states is likely within days or at most weeks. As the RUBaltic portal puts it, this is only “a question of time.”