Ints Kalnins / Reuters

WHEN the representatives of the small nationalities on the western border of Russia made their plea for independence in 1918 and 1919 several reasons were brought forward why it should be granted. One was the principle of national self-determination, just proclaimed by President Wilson. Another, dear to the heart of British politicians of the old school, was the desire to weaken Russia. A third, uppermost in Clemenceau's mind, was the idea of surrounding the "Red area" with a "sanitary cordon" which would preserve the rest of Europe from being contaminated by Communism. A fourth reason, advocated by French military strategists, was the desirability of setting up a group of states under Allied influence between two potential military allies -- Russia and Germany. Thus anyone could choose his particular reason for favoring the independence for the border nations. In the final analysis, the real reason they gained independence was Soviet Russia's extreme political

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