Power Vertical Podcast Ep. 41

Three decades ago this week, an estimated two million people joined hands to form a human chain spanning 675 kilometers across the three Baltic states.

The Baltic Way demonstrations marked the 50th anniversary of the secret protocols of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, the infamous backroom deal between Hitler and Stalin to divide Europe between them – which facilitated the Soviet occupation of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania.

Beyond being visually impressive and emotionally moving, the Baltic Way transformed the idea of Baltic independence from the impossible to the inevitable. It also did something more universal: it signaled that the era of imperial powers lording over small nations was no longer acceptable.

You can even say that the Baltic Way helped establish the norms that would form the basis for the rules-and-values based international order that would come into force after the Cold War. In many ways, the post-Cold War order was born on August 23, 1989. But with that world order under attack, what is the legacy of the Baltic Way three decades on?

Joining Brian Whitmore on the 41st episode of the Power Vertical podcast are CEPA’s Donald N. Jensen along with special guests Johannes Kert, a member of the Estonian parliament and a former Commander of the Estonian Defense Forces, and Karl Altau, Director of the Joint Baltic-American Committee.

Audio Clip: “Bunda jau Baltija” by the Lithuanian Diplomatic Chorus via the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania. Listen to the full song here.  

Photo: “Balti kett 11” by Jaan Künnap under CC BY-SA 4.0.

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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August 23, 2019

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.