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Plus ça change…

There was a revealing moment when Hillary Clinton presented a red button with the word 'Reset' to Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov at the outset of the Obama Presidency. Lavrov didn't appear to be too enamoured with Ms Clinton's stage managed PR event over a hastily convened prop. He only seemed to cheer up when he saw that tne word 'Reset' had been wrongly translated into Russian. What does this word mean then? it was asked. 'Overcharge' replied Lavrov. 'Well, I won't let you overcharge me!' shot back the Secretary of State.

And there, for me, was the essence of the differences and mistrust which underlie - and perhaps underpin - the relationship between the two countries.

Lavrov had of course meant 'overcharge' as in an electrical overcharge. Clinton understood the word in the commercial sense, as in to overcharge a customer.

It was a verbal exchange which gave a window in to the distrust that never quite vanished of the former Soviet cadre which now ran Russia. And one of the most potent reasons for that lingering distrust was the warnings of Baltic states to remain vigilant. Several larger western countries - and Russia itself - claimed that the Baltic states were being too influenced by the past and not profiting enough from a new world order. Russia was now a partner, and the West didn't need awkward reminders of Russia's unsavoury past. Everything would be fine. The Baltic States remained unconvinced.

Today's new documentary 'Blood Brothers?' aims to show why one Baltic country - Lithuania - wasn't convinced. Indeed, what it has gone through recently gives it a particularly good insight into how Russia's plans unfold. It suffered many similar attacks when it declared its independence 25 years ago as Ukraine is suffering today. It too had people protesting and dying and fighting for their country to be truly independent.

NATO Review went to Lithuania to find out how they see the drama unfolding in Ukraine - and how they managed to avoid the same fate.

Paul King

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