The Power Vertical Podcast at CEPA

Eight decades ago, the Soviet invasion, occupation, and annexation of three small European nations was declared illegal and illegitimate.

Following the Soviet annexation of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, acting U.S. Secretary of State Sumner Welles issued a declaration on July 23, 1940 affirming in no uncertain terms that the United States would not recognize the incorporation of these states into the USSR. More than 50 countries followed suit.

The Welles Declaration defined U.S. and Western policy toward the Baltic states during the long Soviet occupation. It facilitated the continued operation of Estonian, Latvian, and Lithuanian diplomatic missions. It protected the economic assets of the Baltic countries. And it facilitated their return to Europe when the Soviet occupation finally ended.

This history is relevant today as Vladimir Putin’s Kremlin regime becomes increasingly revanchist, increasingly aggressive toward its smaller neighbors, and increasingly menacing toward the Baltics.

So on its 80th anniversary, today we’ll discuss the relevance of the Welles Declaration in our time with Estonian Deputy Chief of Mission Marko Koplimaa, Latvia Deputy Chief of Mission Juris Pēkalis, Lithuanian Deputy Chief of Mission Dovydas Špokauskas, Russia scholar and former U.S. State Department official Paul Goble, as well as the Managing Director of the Joint Baltic American National Committee Karl Altau.

Intro Audio Clip: “Message from the President to the Federal Assembly” by the President of Russia under CC BY 4.0. 

Photo: U.S. National Archives (photocopy from Hiden, John; Vahur Made, David J. Smith (2008). The Baltic question during the Cold War. Routledge. pp. 209). 

WP Post Author

Brian Whitmore

Brian Whitmore is Director of the Russia Program at the Center for European Policy Analysis. Before joining CEPA he was Senior Russia Analyst at Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. He also worked as a foreign correspondent for The Boston Globe in Moscow and Prague; as a graduate instructor in the Department of Government and International Studies at the University of South Carolina; and as a visiting lecturer in the History Faculty at Mechnikov National University in Odessa, Ukraine and the International Relations Faculty at St. Petersburg State University.

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July 24, 2020

The Power Vertical is a CEPA podcast covering the Kremlin for Kremlin watchers. All opinions are those of the guests and do not necessarily represent the position or views of the institutions they represent or the Center for European Policy Analysis.