Alex Grigorievs: Russia continues to make trouble in Latvia, but its level is manageable

Alex Grigorievs: Russia continues to make trouble in Latvia, but its level is manageable

 

Latvia and the other Baltic States had done much to integrate into the EU energy market. What do You think about Nord Stream project?

I think you flatter Latvia and other Baltic states saying that they have done much to integrate their countries into the EU energy market. In fact, the Baltic states have been unable to on the location of a joint liquified gas terminal. As a result, Lithuania has been the first to build one in Klaipeda and Latvia is free to buy gas which, at least formally, enabled Latvian customers to buy gas from suppliers other than Gazprom and its subsidiaries, like ITERA. In accordance with European regulations, Latvia has divided supplier, distributer and owner of the underground storage facility into separate legal entities. They are, nonetheless, still dominated by Gazprom under various aliases. It may and will probably change with time. However, the position of Russia as the principal supplier of natural gas is unlikely to change in the foreseeable future. This is the also the source of political influence and, as such, is a national security threat. Accordingly, Latvia’s attitude to all North Streams is consistently negative.

The Rīga Conference has become a unique venue for constructive dialogue on international security. How do you assess Latvia-Russia relations today?

Latvia-Russia relations can be described as pragmatically bad. Russia continues to make trouble in Latvia, but its level is manageable. The same words apply to the effect of Russian copy cat sanctions against EU goods, which initially created a degree of panic in Latvia. Panic proved exaggerated. Latvia found alternative markets, and its economy is doing almost unexpectedly well. Frankly speaking, in the current context, good relations with Russia would be alarming and signal fundamental mistakes in Latvian foreign policy.

Is it possible to correct Moscow's position towards Kiev

The short answer is no. Moscow’s position will not change, but we can attempt to manage and limit its consequences. The more Moscow acts in tune with its position, the more it should hurt. Hurt diplomatically, economy-wise and militarily. Unfortunately, this is not happening to a sufficient degree. The West is waking up to the fact that Russia is an enemy, but the waking up is slow.

 

05.11.2018

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