Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Harmony in Waiting

Putin has many tools to conquer his targets. While the pro-Russian party in Latvia lost seats in parliament, it remains a large force in the minority. Ultimately, however, its purpose is to be a wedge for Russian intervention.

The misleadingly named Harmony Party in Latvia lost ground there but remains a force:

The leftist Harmony party, allied with Russian President Vladimir Putin's United Russia party, took 25 seats in the 100-member parliament, but with no coalition partners it is set to remain in the opposition, partial official results from 1,000 of 1,054 polling stations showed Sunday.

As an aside, are we the only country in the world whose support for others "taints" foreign entities by associating with us? That's what our Left says about American support for foreign pro-democracy dissidents. I guess the Russians and Harmony didn't get the memo.

But while Harmony winning electorally in Latvia would be nice for Putin, winning isn't necessary. Just existing is good enough.

Let's look at how Russia engineered a popular revolt in neighboring Estonia in 1924*:

With Comintern's support, the leaders of the putsch received training and equipment in the soviet Union from where they were then secretly taken to Estonia. The Soviet embassy in Estonia participated actively in the preparations. Military forces were massed on the Estonian borders, and the Red Navy's Baltic Fleet set out to sea. Soviet journalists started a fierce campaign of anti-Estonia propaganda. On December 1, 1924 several hundred insurgents attacked the more important strategic points and military units in Tallinn. Their goal was to take power in the capital for a couple of hours and then send a request for help to the 'friendly' Red Army ...

However, events did not evolve as planned. At Tondi military school, at the War Ministry, and in many other places the attack was resisted. Attempts to get workers to join the uprising also failed. Fighting groups, some of them spontaneously formed, began to take back sites held by communist attack groups. In this way the unit formed by General Podder won back the Central Telegraph before a victory call could be sent to the Red Navy waiting for the raid. Within six hours the coup attempt had been put down ... Some of those captured were executed. Over 20 people died on the Republic's side, civilians among them.

We may seek to counter Russia's subliminal war techniques that brought a near bloodless take over of Crimea and the bloodier version that has gotten Russia part of the east, but Russia could try a faster method that also relies on fake local uprisings that long for union with Russia.

So the Harmony party serves Putin well just existing, no matter how small it might get. And waiting.

And there's the old fashioned way of just rolling the Army Formerly Known as Red straight into a Baltic state.  That works, too.

* Mart Larr, Estonia's Way (Tallinn, 2006), p. 130; quoted in Norman Davies, Vanished Kingdoms (New York, 2011), p. 708.