Russia imposes sanctions on 144 citizens of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania

The Russian Foreign Ministry Thursday issued sanctions against 144 citizens of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. Russia accused the individuals of hostile acts against the Russian state. The alleged acts include lobbying for sanctions, interference with Russia’s internal affairs and inciting “Russophobic” sentiments. The names of the individuals are not yet available.

In the statement, Russia leveled further claims against the three Baltic states. It accused the countries of engaging in a “barbaric” movement to demolish Soviet-era war monuments and persecution of Russian-speaking populations. Latvia passed a law in 2022 requiring the removal of monuments “glorifying the Soviet and Nazi regimes.” The Latvian Parliament also supported Latvian as the official language of education in the country. Russia further accused the three countries of escalation of the war in Ukraine by providing the “Kiev regime” with military aid.

The Baltic states are particularly outspoken in their support of Ukraine. Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Reinsalu in a meeting with Ukrainian President Zelenskyy pledged full support for Ukraine’s entry into the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and continued military aid. Reinsalu also stated Estonia was committed to holding Russia accountable for “genocide” and war crimes in Ukraine. Latvian Foreign Ministry officials echoed their Estonian neighbors. They advocated for Russia to be tried for human rights abuses both in Ukraine and inside Russia. In a joint statement with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, Lithuanian Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis called for “strong economic costs on Russia through sanctions.” Lithuania also sits on the International Center for the Prosecution of Crimes of Aggression against Ukraine (ICPA). Additionally, the capital of Lithuania, Vilnius, is set to host a July 2023 NATO summit.

Soviet-era resettlement and Russification policies greatly affected the demographics of the Baltic states. Nearly a quarter of Estonia and Latvia’s populations are ethnic Russians who use Russian as their native language. All three are members of NATO and the EU.