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Moscow plans to ruin the Baltic states' ports and to destroy the "Baltic railway" project
Tygodnik TVP ^ | December 20, 2019 | MAREK BUDZISZ

Posted on 12/24/2019 2:15:37 AM PST by NorseViking

The Baltic States earn a lot on transit of goods and raw materials from the East to the West, but Moscow intends to deprive them of their income, moving its transit to its own ports. Moscow uses a combination of military and economic means against the Baltic states that may be workable.

The American Ministry of Finance within the so-called Global Magnitsky act introduced in December included a black list of people, blocking their assets in the United States. That list include several high-ranking foreign officials and politicians suspected of involvement in large scale corruption. Magnitsky was a lawyer and auditor whistle-blower who uncovered representatives of the Russian power structures robbing the companies in which were invested foreign including American capital. For this he was detained on the basis of fabricated charges and placed in a detention facility, where he died under mysterious circumstances, becoming an international symbol of the struggle against corrupt officials.

This time on the US Magnitsky list are two high-ranking officials from Venezuela, a businessman from Cambodia, but more interestingly - Aivars Lembergs from Latvia — entrepreneur, and at the same time the mayor of port city Ventspils (since 1988, he was reelected to this post five times already) - the most popular Latvian politician.

(Excerpt) Read more at ...

TOPICS: Business/Economy
KEYWORDS: easteurope; estonia; eussr; fourthreich; germany; latvia; lithuania; nato; poland
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Port tycoon and a list of its "fellows"

Lembergs and his companies control not only the port in the city where he is mayor, but much larger one - in a capital Riga. In General, his business are ports and transit of goods, it should be noted that the Latvian capital is the main place of overload, in particular for reexport to Europe of Russian coal.

Latvian media recently published copies of the pages from the notebook of with lists of his Lembergs "fellows". Next to the names of politicians from different movements were given the numbers that some commentators believe the amounts paid to these people by the oligarch.

Now he leads by a regional party "Latvia and Ventspils", which occupies a dominant position on the local political scene, but as suggested by the journalists of the Russian service of British BBC, his influence extends much further. Lembergs is considered to be the gray cardinal of the Latvian Union of greens and farmers which for almost 20 years included in every ruling coalition.

Lembergs is a strong critic of the policies of the current leadership of Latvia and its strategy to promote the Latvian language in the school system at the expense of Russian, as well as a supporter of rapprochement with Russia and deepen economic cooperation with Eastern neighbor. Meanwhile Latvia already for many years can not cope with the problem of a well-organized heavily Pro-Russian (40% of the population) Russian-speaking minority, whose loyalty to the Latvian state is in doubt.

Professor of the University of Latvia Ojars Skudra told the press that "in Latvia, no one understands why the Americans drew attention to the Lembergs only now, after all everything about him is known for already about 15 years". However, the sanctioning Lembergs appears to be part of the bigger picture. Perhaps now the game begins, the bet at which is the independence of Latvia and her neighbours as well as their place in American plans for the defense of the Eastern flank of NATO. The government has engaged in effort to take back control over the ports in Riga and Ventspils but everything points to the fact that this is only the beginning of the battle for control of strategic infrastructure in the Baltic States.

The Russians are increasing pressure.

The Baltic countries for many years lived at the expense of transit of Russian goods and raw materials that were exported from the Commonwealth of Independent States to the markets of Western countries. Doing this allowed the transport network (roads, Railways, pipelines) and developed port infrastructure developed by the Soviets after World War II. But Moscow, apparently, came to the conclusion that it should "close the valve" and direct export flows from the Baltic states to Russia's own ports, thus depriving the small Baltic countries of a significant source of income.

For Latvia, where a third of budget revenues is provided by EU subsidies, which are already at great risk to reduce due to Brexit and problems with balancing of the European budget, the loss of $ 600 million (in such a sum estimated the income from the transit of Russian goods) will be a painful blow. Withholding their money Russians might destabilize the social situation leaving Latvia without funds for welfare programs and also jeopardize Latvia's NATO commitment creating inability to maintain military spending.

According to official data of the Russian Ministry of transport through the ports of Baltic nations in 2018 Russia imported 3 million tons of goods, and exported 33 million tons of goods. Russian experts estimate that Baltic nations' businesses earned in port dues and other charges about 30 billion rubles, or about $ 480 million. From now on Russians are planning to keep their money for themselves.

Moscow even admits that she has already begun to implement its plan. In early December, Paul Goble, a member of the American analytical center "Jamestown Foundation," wrote that the Kremlin has methodically directed the flow of imports and exports from the ports of the Baltic States (which are considered to belong to a hostile block now) to the Russian ports on the Baltic sea, for example, to Ust-Luga and St. Petersburg. The Russians are not only investing heavily in the development of its own infrastructure, but also applying administrative pressure on Russian companies, forcing them to refuse the services of the Baltic States. In addition, there are negotiations between Russia and Belarus on the theme of their economic integration and officials in Moscow demanded that Minsk has ceased to export and import goods through the Lithuanian Klaipeda and started to use the Russian ports in the Kaliningrad region. Demands had not been met so far, but that's not stopping the Kremlin, which is gradually trying to deprive the Baltic States of an important source of income.

The first effects are already being felt. As reported by the media Director of the State railway administration of Latvia Juris Iesalnieks Russian exporters using services of Latvian Railways, under pressure from the Kremlin leadership began to sign agreements on the reduction of the volume of transit through the ports of the Baltic States. As a result, in the first half of this year the volume of cargo turnover in the ports of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia decreased by 12.4%, and in Russian ports has increased accordingly. Although there are exceptions. Moscow's policy of "rewarding allies" has a specific financial component: under the control of corrupt mayor Lembergs, the port of Ventspils this year increased its turnover by 7%.

On top of that Russian propagandists in Europe has already started to write that "rail Baltica" will be unprofitable project. This important transport project built for EU money with standard European track gauge was to become a element of the TRANS-European transport corridor, which connects Warsaw, Kaunas, Riga, Tallinn and Helsinki. Russian insinuations are intended to convince Brussels officials that investments in the Baltic infrastructure is a waste of money.

Independence from the Kremlin is expensive.

Russia begins to implement its strategy for the provision of economic pressure on the region. This is evidenced by the decision in June by Vladimir Putin, the decision on construction in the village of Yantarny of Kaliningrad of a huge port with a cargo capacity of 48 million tons. This project has been discussed for 20 years, but now the process of its implementation has accelerated. It is assumed that the creation of a new port will cost at least 200 billion rubles (about 3 billion euros). The Russian budget will allocate only 50 billion, and the remaining costs will be covered by private investors.

For many years, the project was not engaged, because from an economic point of view, it did not make sense, especially because the nearby port of Klaipeda in Lithuania, however, it has now considered by the Russians of strategic importance. The Moscow leadership already bribed with tax incentives the company "URALCHEM" of Dmitry Mazepin to divert their exports from Klaipeda to new port and to invest in its construction a large amount of money. Recently the decision to abandon the use of Baltic ports also boasted Russian oil giant Transneft.

It is not only about port and rail infrastructure.

Russian Gazprom announced the intention to sell the stake in the company "Latvian gas", which is the operator of transport infrastructure and underground gas storage facilities in Latvia. Earlier, the desire to get out of the enterprise was expressed by the German Gazprom's partner "AEON Ruhrgas". It is possible that the Latvian government will use its preemptive right of purchase. It will be another problem, another expense, which will leave less money for military purposes, and at the same time a clear message to society and political parties: the politics of independence from Russia is expensive.

Russian economic pressure can lead to other, much more serious consequences. Over the years the Baltic countries were in the EU, we saw that the indigenous Latvians, Lithuanians and Estonians often go in search of a better life in Europe although the Russians despise the idea of migration and more attached to a land they live on. Especially strongly this phenomenon manifested itself in Latvia, where Russian-speaking minority may eventually become a majority. The economic crisis will only hasten this process.

Russia, apparently, decided to modify its policy and rather than the military threats it now resorts to economic pressure and propaganda. Not casually Vladimir Putin recently said that within several years Central Europe will stop receiving generous European subsidies and should seriously think about the meaning of its future EU membership.

From the report of the Latvian intelligence on the main threats to 2018, it follows that Riga continues to treat Russia as a revisionist state which seeks to maintain its influence in the region and has an impact on the political life of the Baltic States by misinformation campaigns, called "to divide society and reduce trust of citizens to democratic processes and government bodies and institutions."

One of the manifestations of such activities was launched by the Russian delegation on the rights of national minorities at the UN forum, which was held in December in Geneva, the campaign on charges of the Baltic States (especially Lithuania and Latvia) that they are discriminating against the Russian minority, particularly in the field of education. This step serves as a continuation of actions in may last year led to the adoption by the European Parliament of a resolution condemning Latvia for the promotion of learning strategies in the Latvian language, the alleged discriminating the Russian minority.

The draft resolution prepared by the two Latvian MEP: one of the club of the socialists (the representative of "Russian Union of Latvia") and the second from the faction of "green" (member of a friendly Lembergs party). It should be noted that it was supported by 115 members of the European Parliament from, as proudly reported by the authors protest, all EU countries, i.e. including Poland. MPs from the "Russian Union of Latvia" was arranged in the European Parliament conference, becoming one of the tools of discrediting the Baltic States: Russian politicians who speak at these events, tell us that in the Baltic States to the Russian-speaking citizens are treated like Jews during the Second world war.

All this happens in a situation where American military experts call on States in the region to make further efforts to adapt infrastructure for rapid deployment of NATO troops. A special report on the future protection of the Baltic States by NATO forces, wrote Richard Hooker, Jr. — a veteran of the wars in Rwanda, Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan, a former Professor at the Military Academy of West point, an employee of the NATO Defense College in Rome, special adviser to the President of the United States and a member of the American Council on foreign Affairs. He pointed out that if the Vilnius, Riga and Tallinn will not increase the spending for their own armed forces, and the construction of bridges, roads and warehouses, the possibility to give guarantees of security will not be considered, since the Alliance has now become weaker and Russia more aggressive.

Thus, the economic pressure that Moscow has on the countries of the region has specific military implications. This aspect of Russian politics, perhaps best visible from Washington than Berlin or Paris and maybe that is why a true friend of the Latvian oligarch Lembergs is finally in the American "black list", while in Europe (which also seems to be fighting against corruption), he feels completely at ease.

1 posted on 12/24/2019 2:15:37 AM PST by NorseViking
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To: NorseViking

The US and EU would get around to sanctioning the Baltic States for allowing Russia to ship through their ports sooner or later anyway so how is this anything but an expected, rational, response to handwriting on the wall?

2 posted on 12/24/2019 3:06:36 AM PST by Rashputin (Jesus Christ doesn't evacuate His troops, He leads them to victory !!)
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To: Rashputin

The article is actually a representation of schizophrenic way of thinking of ‘new Europe’.

Congress included the guy running the Latvian port system on Magnitsky list and arrested his assets and they are surprised why Latvian ports are losing business.

The premise that Russia should not repatriate its transit so the Baltic States would use related fees to fulfill NATO commitment is beyond laughable too.

The same about Russian minority. They say it is to become a majority due to the fact that natives are moving to better-off parts of EU and Russians aren’t.

Maybe it is not a Russian problem when the Russians love the Baltic States more than their title ethnicities who prefer Germany and UK.

3 posted on 12/24/2019 3:18:14 AM PST by NorseViking
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To: NorseViking

Too bad that President Trump has had his hands tied in trying to improve relations with Russia due to the fake and evil Russia probe. Things might even be better now for the Baltic states.

4 posted on 12/24/2019 3:44:55 AM PST by Freee-dame
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To: NorseViking

Russia is doing to the Baltic States what it will do to Germany in the near future, with Nordstream 2, and the EU is too Marxist and anti-American to stop it while they can. Perhaps, the EU sees itself as becoming part of the new USSR that Russia is working so hard toward re-establishing.

Some people never learn.

5 posted on 12/24/2019 4:13:03 AM PST by jacknhoo (Luke 12:51; Think ye, that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, no; but separation.)
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To: jacknhoo

With all due respect I have no idea what brought you to such a conclusion based on this article.
Please elaborate.

6 posted on 12/24/2019 4:23:28 AM PST by NorseViking
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To: jacknhoo

As I see it, Western Europe is committing cultural suicide, so long-term projects like these really don’t have much meaning. In fact, to me, about the ONLY thing capable of stopping this suicide right now is Russia/Eastern Europe, and I’m not too optimistic that will happen.

7 posted on 12/24/2019 4:30:14 AM PST by BobL (I drive a pickup truck to work because it makes me feel like a man.)
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To: Freee-dame
I agree with you. They are also trying to ruin President Trump's relationship with Ukraine.

I'd say that Zelensky is well aware of the Dems and their destructive moves.

8 posted on 12/24/2019 4:50:33 AM PST by Sacajaweau
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To: sauropod


9 posted on 12/24/2019 5:05:07 AM PST by sauropod (Hold onto that impeachment for a while. It'll get better with age, just like Jennifer Rubin has.)
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To: NorseViking

“The Baltic States earn a lot on transit of goods and raw materials from the East to the West, but Moscow intends to deprive them of their income, moving its transit to its own ports.”

Why wouldn’t Russia want to use its own ports and not lose money to other states? (Ignoring that the Baltic ports are probably a more efficient way to ship products, but this sounds like a matter of politics, and/or which mafia gets to feed).

10 posted on 12/24/2019 7:13:45 AM PST by Chewbarkah
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To: Chewbarkah

Baltic ports are barely a more efficient way given we are talking about crossing borders and related tariffs.

11 posted on 12/24/2019 7:19:47 AM PST by NorseViking
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To: NorseViking


12 posted on 12/24/2019 8:36:47 AM PST by Wuli
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To: Sacajaweau

Who cares what Zelensky thinks? He is exposing himself as an empty suit day by day. Soros is calling the shots there and more so than under previous regime.
Most of the opponents of the former regime who helped Zelensky get elected are now under trail or already in prisons on false charges and they are persecuted by the leftovers of Poroshenko regime whom Zelensky promised to purge but left them in offices instead.
Zelensky regime is a Charlie Foxtrot even by a pretty low Ukrainian standard.

13 posted on 12/24/2019 10:43:26 PM PST by NorseViking
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To: NorseViking

The territory that includes Kaliningrad should belong to Lithuania or Poalnd.

14 posted on 01/20/2020 2:15:19 PM PST by rfreedom4u (The root word of vigilante is vigilant!)
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To: rfreedom4u

I have no idea about Lithuania but as a part of former Prussia it has more connection to Germany than to Poland. Nearby Polish land should belong to Germany following the same logic.

15 posted on 01/20/2020 8:38:28 PM PST by NorseViking
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To: NorseViking

I believe the German lands were given to Poland to compensate for the loss of Polish lands to Ukraine and Belarus. In effect the Polish border was slid to the west a couple hundred miles.
But I hear ya!

16 posted on 01/21/2020 9:44:31 AM PST by rfreedom4u (The root word of vigilante is vigilant!)
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To: rfreedom4u

“” “” to compensate for the loss of Polish lands to Ukraine and Belarus.”” “”

You say it as if Germany took the lands.

17 posted on 01/21/2020 11:41:33 AM PST by NorseViking
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To: NorseViking

You say it as if Germany took the lands.

Nope. Communists took the land. I was in Warsaw, Poland for the WW2 ceremony this past September. From the Poles I spoke to they despise the Russians more than they do the Germans. They are quick to point out that the Russians invaded as well as Germany. Plus they had to deal with them for decades after the war.

18 posted on 01/21/2020 1:12:57 PM PST by rfreedom4u (The root word of vigilante is vigilant!)
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To: rfreedom4u

Yep, it is time to undo that Communists did. Give it back to Germany if you hate it.

19 posted on 01/21/2020 1:27:44 PM PST by NorseViking
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To: rfreedom4u

“” “” From the Poles I spoke to they despise the Russians more than they do the Germans. “” “”

And that by the way means the people you were talking to are lacking in moral and intellectual integrity.
The Russians owed them no freedom. If they loved freedom that much they had to fight for it all by itself and win. They were obviously incapable to prevail against the Germans in 1941-1945 and the British they love so much didn’t lift a finger.
We all know what Germans had in plans for the Polish. They viewed them as an inferior race and wanted to work them to death as slave labor then convert their bodies into soap bars and gloves.
They owe the Russians for the very fact they still exist.

20 posted on 01/22/2020 2:52:20 AM PST by NorseViking
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