For a long time, Russia and the Baltic Countries have had unfriendly relationships, the Russians have been seen as invaders. The message of US Vice-President Mike Pence has been very clear: The Baltic nations will be protected by the NATO if they are attacked by the government of Vladimir Putin. Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia left the Soviet Union at the beginning of the 90s when the Communist giant was collapsing. They were in the hands of Moscow more than 4 decades and they disliked the Soviet economic and political system. After Russia occupied a part of Ukraine a few years ago, the Baltic countries have felt uncomfortable, they believe they are potential victims.

Russia and Belarus will have military exercises the next month, this increases the tension in the area. Juri Ratas, the Estonian Prime Minister, believes that cooperation between the US and the Baltic nations is extremely important. Soon Donald Trump will punish Russia with new sanctions.

Small countries with a strong identity

The Baltic countries were occupied by Germany during the Second World War but then they were liberated by the Soviet Union. The problem is that the liberators remained more than 40 years and imposed socialism and a totalitarian government. People from the Baltic countries felt more identified with the Western way of life, which created serious misunderstandings with Moscow. Many Russians moved to the area to change the ethnic composition of those countries but the desire to secede was strong and they left the Soviet Union.

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The Baltics are among the winners

When they left the USSR they had to face many challenges but they were able to overcome them. Today the Baltic countries have a living standard much higher than the Ukrainian or the Moldovan one. The Baltics emulated the Scandinavian countries. Although they don't have a living standard as high as that of Norway or Sweden, they have per capita incomes ranging from $14,000 to $17,000. Republics that were part of the USSR such as Ukraine and Uzbekistan have per capita incomes that barely surpass $2,000. In Moldova it is less than $2,000 and in Tajikistan it's around $800.

Demographic crisis

Many republics that were part of the USSR are in the middle of a demographic crisis because the birth rate has fallen. Even more, many people have left those impoverished countries. Anyway, in Russia, the population has fallen just between 1% and 2% since it reached its peak in the 90s. In the Baltic countries, the demographic decline has been around 20% which is a very serious threat to their security.