Home / Articles / Why Isn’t Latvia the “Next” Crimea? Reconsidering Ethnic Integration
In the aftermath of Russia’s military incursion in Ukraine and the annexation of Crimea in 2014, a flurry of articles predicted the next territorial conquest of President Vladimir Putin’s Russian revanchism. High on the list were the Baltic countries, which sit precariously on the edge of Europe and historically have been the “bloodlands” between East and West in author Timothy Snyder’s phrasing. More specifically, journalists and analysts pointed to the “Russian enclaves” in northeastern Estonia and southeastern Latvia, where, by many accounts, large ethnic Russian populations were prepared to rise up against Baltic governments with a bit of provocation from across the eastern border. However, six years on, there is little indication that Russian speakers in the Baltic countries are on the brink of causing an internal uprising. While there are multiple factors that can help explain the Baltic “dog that didn’t bark,” this essay considers an often overlooked variable in the equation: the depth of civic and cultural integration among Russian speakers in Latvia.