Today's press widely reportshawkish Defence Secretary Michael Fallon's claim that Russia is a “clear and present danger” to Baltic States
Last year our far from dovish House of Commons Defence Select Committee published a 54 page report on 31 July entitled: Towards the next Defence and Security Review: Part Two-NATO. (http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201415/cmselect/cmdfence/358/358.pdf)
In the section headed the UK and NATO's capacity to respond: The conventional military threat, in discussing the conventional vulnerabilities of the ‘Baltic theatre’, the report notes: “Our witnesses consistently emphasised that there was a low likelihood of a Russian conventional attack on a Baltic State.
Yet on 20 February in a longer 120 page report from peers, The EU and Russia: before and beyond the crisis in Ukraine (http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld201415/ldselect/ldeucom/115/11502.htm), it asserts in a section on Rights of Ethnic Russians and Russian Speakers that “ All three Baltic countries are state parties to the Council of Europe's Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities (adopted in 1994). The Framework sets out a number of principles according to which signatory States are to protect the rights of minorities.”
And concludes in paragraph 123 “The historical grievance of the rights of ethnic Russians in Estonia and Latvia offers the Russian government a convenient pretext which could be used to justify further destabilising actions in those states. On the basis of the evidence we have taken, there does, prima facie, seem to be a question to be investigated, in particular whether more steps could be taken to facilitate access to citizenship for ethnic Russians who have long-established residency in these states, but limited ability in the official language.
So which set of expert evidence to Parliament on the potential vulnerabilities of the Baltic States should we believe?