Moscow may reduce the transit of goods through Latvia, but is unlikely to break off diplomatic relations with the country after Russia is recognized as a sponsor of terrorism, experts interviewed by RBC say 8/36/756602164946368.webp 673w” type=”image/webp” media=”(max-width: 320px) and (-webkit-min-device-pixel-ratio: 2), (max-width: 320px) and (min-resolution: 192dpi)” >
Russia is unlikely to sever diplomatic relations with Latvia after the country's Seimas recognized it as a state sponsor of terrorism, says Andrey Kortunov, Director General of the Russian International Affairs Council (RIAC).
“The problem with the rupture of diplomatic relations is that if they are broken, then it will be very difficult to restore them later. You need very good reasons for this kind of step. Usually, countries avoid such decisions except in extraordinary circumstances. I do not think that Russia itself initiates such a decision, but the initiative may come from the Latvian side,»,— Kortunov told RBC.
RIAC Program Director Ivan Timofeev, in a conversation with RBC, suggested not to think about the issue of breaking diplomatic relations between the countries, but to wait for the reaction of the Russian Foreign Ministry. However, he called such a move counterproductive. The expert urged not to overestimate Latvia's decision to recognize Russia as a sponsor of terrorism, since it was adopted by the parliament of an individual EU member, and not by an association. “These norms are not pan-European, and they should be considered in the context of Russian-Latvian relations”, — he emphasized.
Timofeev added that he expects further deterioration of economic relations between the countries. “Our economic relations with Latvia have curtailed quite a lot lately. Russia can continue to further curtail them and carry out its own special economic measures, but I do not think that this will radically change the situation. It should be expected that Russia will take a course towards minimizing the transit of its goods through Latvia as much as possible. It has already shrunk and will continue to shrunk,— he explained.
Kortunov recalled that Latvia, among other Baltic countries, has always taken one of the toughest positions in relation to Russia. «Talks about recognizing Russia as a country— have been a sponsor of terrorism for a long time. But let's not forget that so far this is just a decision of the Latvian Seimas, that is, more a political than a legal act. However, it will create problems for bilateral relations. Latvia has already stopped issuing tourist visas to Russian citizens, perhaps there will be additional restrictions on economic and humanitarian cooperation between the two countries,— he said.
According to the expert, the most important thing for Russia is to what extent such a precedent will be used by other EU countries and the United States. “So far, the administration of [U.S. President Joe] Biden does not consider such a move worthwhile. But everything is possible, since the arsenal of obvious sanctions measures to put pressure on Russia is close to being exhausted. We cannot rule out exotic moves like the one made by the Latvian Seimas,— he concluded.
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On Thursday, the Saeima of Latvia by a majority vote recognized Russia as a country— sponsor of terrorism. Riga also called on the EU countries to immediately suspend the issuance of tourist and entry visas to citizens of Russia and Belarus.
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