Sunday, December 22, 2019

Moscow Views Three Seas Initiative as US Plot Against Russia

Paul Goble

            Staunton, December 21 – Aleksandr Petrov, Russia’s ambassador to Estonia, has lashed out at Tallinn’s plan to host a summit of the 12 member states of the Three Seas Initiative in June 2020, an action the Russian diplomat suggests is backed by the US – President Donald Trump may attend – and designed to isolate Russia from Europe.

            “We are ready for cooperation with all our European neighbors if their efforts are not directed at the isolation of Russia and the establishment of some kind of  ‘cordon sanitaire’ as the term used to be,” the Russian diplomat sad, adding that Moscow would wait and see what direction the Three Seas Initiative will take (

            It emerged in 2015 and held its first summit a year later in Dubrovnik. It is called the Three Seas Initiative because its combined area provides access to the Adriatic, Baltic and Black seas.  All 12 members were in the Soviet bloc; and except for Sweden, Finland, Cyprus, and Malta, they include all the countries the EU has admitted as member states since 1986. 

            The Three Seas Initiative is a logical-follow on to the Vyshegrad Four and then Community of Democratic Choice. But Russian analysts view the Three Seas Initiative not in that context but rather as a revival of Polish ideas of a century ago typically associated with Marshal Pilsudsky to form an alliance against Moscow.

            Among Russian scholars who have made that argument is Lyubov Shishelina. See “The Idea of ‘the Three Seas’: From Its Appearance to the Present Day” (in Russian), Научно-аналитический вестник Института Европы РАН 5(2018): 33-38.

            The two most important of these Polish efforts were the Promethean League and Warsaw’s promotion of an Intermarium accord. (See Etienne Copeaux, “Le movement  prométhéen.Cahiers d'études sur la Méditerranée orientale et le monde turco-iranien, 16 (1993): 9–45 at and Marek Chodakiewicz’ Intermarium: The Land between the Black and Baltic Seas (Transaction Publishers, 2012).

            Moscow’s insistence that the Three Seas Initiative is a continuation of the Polish effort of a century ago is wrong on two counts, Vadim Shtepa, editor of the Region.Expert portal, argues in Tallinn’s Postimees newspaper (

            On the one hand, he says, Moscow cannot believe that countries can cooperate on their own and reach agreements which reflect the working out of their various positions. And on the other, and related to this, it assumes that some great power, in this case, the US, is behind this group and that Washington is using this smokescreen to isolate Russia.

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