Russia queries recognition of independent Baltic states

The Russian prosecutor general's office is to review the legality of the recognition of the Baltic republics by the State Council of the USSR in 1991, according to the state news agency Interfax.

A "source familiar with the situation" told the agency that two Russian parliamentary deputies had requested that the prosecutor's office investigate the Baltic states' independence, in a move which has been described by the Lithuanian foreign ministers as an "absurd provocation".

Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia were occupied by the Soviet Union from 1940 until the USSR broke up in 1991. The latter two countries both have large numbers of ethnic Russians, while the former has a relatively smaller Russian-speaking minority.

The new review follows a similar ruling last week, when the prosecutor's office ruled that Crimea had been given to Ukraine illegally in 1954. Russia's annexation of Crimea last year was internationally condemned and led to an ongoing conflict between Ukraine and pro-Russian rebels in the east of the country.

Russia has carried out a series of military drills and practises in and around the region which the Baltic states have seen as increasingly aggressive. Earlier this year in February Martin Hurt, the deputy director at Estonia's International Centre for Defence and Security commented that the increasing number of snap drills being carried out by the Russian army could be part of a strategy working towards a Russian offensive on the Baltic states.

Nato allies have intercepted a record number of Russian aircraft flying near to their airspace since the beginning of the war in Ukraine and most recently, Russia have threatened to retaliate with an "adequate response" if the US continue with their plan to store heavy armory in Poland and Lithuania.

Last month, General Phillip M Breedlove who is Nato's supreme allied commander Europe warned that Russia's future actions are unpredictable. Speaking in Lithuania during the recent trip Breedlove said: "We cannot fully be certain what Russia will do next, and we cannot fully grasp Putin's intent but what we can and are doing is learning from his actions... In the east, Russia is blatantly attempting to change the rules and principles that have been the foundation of European security for decades. This challenge that's posed by resurgent Russia is global, not regional, and is enduring, not temporary."