Putin deputy claims Baltic nations as provinces, insults NATO amid Russian military setbacks in Ukraine
Stars and Stripes May 18, 2023
STUTTGART, Germany — A right-hand man of President Vladimir Putin lashed out this week on Twitter, suggesting that the Baltic states belong to Russia, that Poland is “temporarily occupied” and that NATO allies have “soiled themselves” in fear of Russia’s military prowess.
Dmitry Medvedev, a former Russian prime minister and president, unloaded Tuesday in response to recent statements by French President Emmanuel Macron, who referred to Russia’s war on Ukraine as a strategic failure that has left Moscow as a lackey of China.
“NATO member states go to bed at night, and wake up in the morning thinking of Russia,” wrote Medvedev, who now serves as deputy chairman of Russia’s security council under Putin.
Europe, and France in particular, were described by Medvedev as “an elderly wench” that is “satisfying all of the most perverted whims of Americans.”
While the tweets largely involved hurling insults, Medvedev’s comments on eastern flank allies are likely to reinforce regional angst that Russia’s war ambitions extend beyond Ukraine’s borders.
Nations that were once dominated by the Soviet Union were deemed “especially cowardly,” such as “temporarily occupied Poland and our Baltic provinces,” which have “soiled themselves,” Medvedev said.
Once regarded by many Western observers as an easy-going alternative to Putin, Medvedev’s public comments toward the West over that past year have become increasingly bellicose.
His frequent verbal attacks on Twitter come amid a faltering war effort in Ukraine, where more than 100,000 Russian troops have been killed or injured since February 2022, according to Pentagon estimates earlier this year. Initially, many observers assumed Moscow would march to a quick victory given its advantage in manpower and weaponry. However, Russia has gained little since the earliest stages of the war and now finds itself on the defensive.
The war also has led to other effects unanticipated by the Kremlin, such as the galvanization of NATO, which recently brought Finland into the alliance as the security pact’s 31st member. Sweden, which like Finland was militarily unaligned during the Cold War, also is expected to soon join the alliance.
“President Putin went to war against Ukraine with a declared aim to get less NATO,” NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said in April during a gathering of allied leaders. “He wanted NATO to remove our forces, our structures from all allies that have joined after 1997 …. and he wanted NATO to make it absolutely clear that NATO's door was closed for any new membership. He's getting the exact opposite.”
NATO allies this summer are expected to update plans for defending against Russia along the alliance’s eastern flank. The plans will involve thousands more troops operating at higher levels of readiness so that multinational battlegroups can be quickly reinforced in a crisis.
Medvedev, however, asserted that NATO was the strategic loser in connection with events in Ukraine.
“If there has indeed been a loss, it is that of the primitive NATO politics, with its underlying ambition to play the exceptional role in the 21st century,” Medvedev said.