26 JULY 1940, Page 2

Russia and the Baltic States

Russia is actively consolidating her outposts. The occupa- tion of Bessarabia in the south is followed by the assimilation of the republics of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania in the north. The technique has been workmanlike and effective—and quite unprincipled. First, last October, each of the three States was required to make a mutual assistance pact with Russia, and cede various naval and military bases; then, last month, fresh Soviet forces entered all three countries and in all three new Governments were formed ; the new Governments have now duly expressed their ardent desire that their countries should be incorporated in the U.S.S.R., and the U.S.S.R. has duly concurred. Whether similar demands are to be made on Finland is undisclosed ; Sweden is apprehensive on that point, and may be driven rather closer towards Germany in conse- quence. One result of the incorporation of Lithuania in Russia is that the latter now moves up to the frontier of East Prussia, an advance of which Germany may be assumed to be fully conscious. But it is well to draw conclusions with some reserve. What seem to be manoeuvres promising a clash between Berlin and Moscow may well represent actually an agreed division of spoils—which would not at all rule out a clash a little later. Till little more than a year ago the three republics lived to all appearance in complete security, though always at Russia's mercy. Since then Moscow has developed an unexpected imperialism, best explained by the need of taking up stronger defensive positions against Germany. There have been important transfers of German troops eastwards in the last few days. German acquiescence in the Russian action must none the less be assumed.