May 21st, 2021
In 2014, Russia invaded and annexed Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula in the largest land seizure in Europe since World War II. Since then, experts have made various predictions of what Moscow’s next target for expansion might be. The Baltic states—Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania—have been one of the most commonly identified future hot spots and a particularly disastrous area for conflict to break out. Once Russian satellites like most countries in the area, they are often seen as the next most likely targets for Russian aggression. One of Moscow’s main justifications for annexing Crimea was on the basis of reuniting Russia with Crimea’s ethnic Russian majority. In 2014, that population was about 60 percent. Each of the Baltic states has a Russian-speaking minority population, but that number is 25 percent in Latvia and Estonia. These numbers, combined with the small size of each country and their shared Soviet history, have made the Baltics seemingly vulnerable to becoming the next Crimea. However, their actual vulnerability compared to Crimea is more nuanced. I have written a commentary for RealClearDefence here.
The views and opinions expressed in this issue brief are those of the author.
|Sarah White is a Senior Research Analyst at the Lexington Institute.Prior to joining Lexington, Sarah held internships at the Albright Stonebridge Group and the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. She earned an M.A. in Latin American Studies in 2019 from Georgetown University’s Walsh School of Foreign Service, and a B.A. in political science and Spanish from Wake Forest University in 2017. Sarah is fluent in Spanish, proficient in Portuguese, and conversational in French. She is a native of McLean, Virginia.