George Bush decided, quite rightly, to go to Riga, Latvia, ahead of his trip to Moscow to attend the ceremonies marking the sixtieth anniversary of the end of World War II.
That was the right thing to do. The annexation of the Baltic States was a disgraceful episode even by the disgusting standards of that Soviet Union of which Vladimir Putin is, apparently, now so proud. The presidents of Lithuania and Estonia are quite right to boycott the Moscow event. It is a shame that their Latvian counterpart is not doing the same.
As the Daily Telegraph reports, one of Putin’s spokesmen takes a different view:
Sergei Yastrzhembsky, Russia’s point man on relations with the EU, claimed yesterday that the Red Army was welcomed into the Baltics. He said: “One cannot use the term occupation to describe these historical events. At that time, the troop deployment took place on an agreed basis and with the clearly expressed agreement of the existing authorities in the Baltic republics. There was no occupation of foreign territory seized by military means.
Words fail me.
Until Russia begins to acknowledge its past, the prospects for its future look grim.