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A Russian lawmaker said Wednesday that Moscow would seek to repeal its recognition of the independence of former Soviet nations like Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia in a bid to revoke their NATO protections.
State Duma deputy Yevgeny Fedorov told Latvian media that reversing Russia’s decision to recognize the Baltic states as sovereign would create legal grounds to force the alliance to turn away to the 1997 borders.
“The NATO Charter contains clause six, according to which disputed territories cannot be included in the alliance. As soon as the territories of the Baltic countries are recognized as disputed, this will become the basis for the exclusion of the Baltic countries of NATO,” Fedorov said.
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Last week, Fedorov introduced legislation targeting Lithuanian sovereignty and claimed it illegally left the Soviet Union more than three decades ago.
Lithuania became the first republic to announce it would restore independence from the collapsed USSR in March 1990 after having been under Soviet control since 1940.
Moscow, under President Mikhail Gorbachev, recognized Lithuania’s sovereignty in September 1991.
Fedorov claimed that Lithuania was NATO’s first target for Russia because it posed the greatest threat to Moscow and claimed that it was “NATO’s gateway to the Baltic countries”.
But the Russian lawmaker also said other former Soviet states could be next.
“The Commander-in-Chief has determined that our ‘red lines’ run along NATO’s borders in 1997. This means that we must, at a minimum, push NATO beyond the borders of the former Soviet Union,” he said in reference to a time before Eastern European nations were invited to join the alliance.
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Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, all of which share borders with Russia or Belarus – which has been described as a Russian puppet state – joined the NATO alliance in 2004.
The only nations to join between 1997 and 2004 were Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic, and Russia has repeatedly called for the disarmament of those nations – a move NATO has flatly rejected.
“If countries are not a threat, then we won’t change anything with them – there will always be peace and friendship,” the state deputy said.
Fedorov threatened that if Russia decided to reverse its recognition of the independent Baltic states, NATO would have to expel them from the alliance or accept that a “Third World War begins”.
NATO has not publicly commented on Russia’s potential decision to revoke its recognition of the sovereignty of the Baltic states.
But in a speech on Wednesday, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg pledged to strengthen security efforts within the alliance and beyond.
“President Putin’s objectives go beyond Ukraine, and that is why we must both provide support to Ukraine as we do, but also strengthen our deterrence and our defense, in particular in the eastern part of the Alliance,” he told reporters.
Despite Russia’s unveiled threats to NATO allies, experts told Fox News there was no way Moscow could dictate NATO membership.
“First, NATO would not ‘pull’ any nation out of the Alliance. NATO is the result of a treaty, the Washington Treaty, so the only way for a NATO member to leave the Alliance is of his own choosing,” the former assistant assistant said. Secretary of Defense for Europe and NATO, Michael Ryan, said. “Second, the United States never recognized the incorporation of the Baltic States into the Soviet Union.
“Just because a member of the Russian Duma suggests that Russia doesn’t recognize them as independent nations doesn’t mean all NATO members do, so nothing changes,” he said. added.
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Similarly, former intelligence officer for the Defense Intelligence Agency’s (DIA) Russian Doctrine and Strategy, Rebekah Koffler, told Fox News that this was another example of “Putin using his machine.” propaganda to scare people in the Baltic States, foment discord, and escalate tensions with the West.”
“NATO will absolutely not consider driving out the Baltic countries,” she added.
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