In an interview, the political science expert from Latvia spoke about the difficulties of being Russia's neighbor, Russian influence in the Baltic states and the importance of supporting Ukraine in this difficult time.

She has said that Russian propaganda is a well-known tool of Russia to extend its influence to the Baltic states, especially Latvia.

She believes that it is very important for the West and the European Union to support Ukraine at this stage, as Ukraine is fighting for a democratic world.

"I think Ukrainians are currently fighting not only for their country, but also for a democratic world," Viksne told The Geopost.

Below you can find Elina Viksne's full interview for The Geopost:

What is it like to be a neighbor of Russia?

Elina Viksne:

It's not easy.

Of course, it is very difficult at the moment and time, but Russia has always been our neighbor, so we have learned a lot about them and made our actions according to the developments that have taken place in Russia.

Of course, Russia has chosen a different path from Latvia and I think that for a certain period of time we have openly accepted Russia as our number one threat to national security.

So we have always been aware of the dangers and threats coming from Russia and of course we present our policies, our measures to face those dangers.

How present is Russian influence in the Baltic states?

Elina Viksne:

It's a big impact, it always has been.

Of course, this is mostly due to the fact that although Latvia was first created in the 1980s, from the 1940s to the 1990s we were occupied by the USSR (Russia), so we have had a lot of Russian influence historically for due to occupation and of course even today.

Everyone understands that Russia takes its sphere of influence very seriously.

All the borders of the USSR, of which Latvia is a part, have Russian influence.

Russian propaganda has always been a tool for Russia to try to influence our communities, our people, our politicians and society as a whole, creating an image of Latvia as a "loser" due to the collapse of the Soviet Union.

As a 'loser' because we are in the EU or NATO, or even as a threat to Russia because we are members of these institutions.

So it's not an easy neighbor and it never has been, but we know our past, we know our history and we know this very well and we have prepared things to be ready if something escalates.

Do you think that after Putin there will be another "Putin", or Russia will change?

Elina Viksne:

It's a tough question, of course no one knows.

But from my point of view, I think that if Putin leaves or dies or whatever, then there might be some kind of change in regime, but I do not think Russia will become a democratic country overnight even if Putin disappears.

I think the system that has been built in Russia is very undemocratic, very corrupt and very dangerous.

It is very vertical, it is not horizontal.

So I think there is a higher risk that we will have another dictator coming next.

But it certainly is not that I am saying that Putin should stay, that would be the last thing I would like, but I do not think the challenge will go away if Putin leaves.

Large parts of the challenge may change, but I think Russia's history and Russia's political system find it very difficult to change.

There must be something big for Russia to change its course towards a more democratic country.

Why is it important to support Ukraine today?

The West in general, but the European Union in particular.

Elina Viksne:

I think Ukrainians are currently fighting not only for their country, but also for a democratic world.

I would also like to say that they are fighting for the future of Russia, because I think that when the Ukrainians win, there is a possibility that Russia will change.

As we said before, it will not be an easy change, an overnight change, but I think Ukraine's victory can help Russia change for the better, because from my point of view the Russians are still living in World War II.

They thought they were the winners of World War II, when in fact they were aggressors at the time.

I think it is very important to support Ukraine so that we can live in a more democratic world where rules and laws are respected.

I think everyone wants to live in a world where they can feel safe and I think if the Russians do not lose in Ukraine, their levels of threats and dangers will only increase and the world will be a much more dangerous place than how much.

Latvia is doing everything it can to support Ukraine because we think Russia needs to be defeated in Ukraine and we believe the Ukrainians can do it.

How important is the application of Finland and Sweden to NATO for the Baltic states?

Elina Viksne:

That's very important.

We would be happy to have them in NATO.

Because if you look at the NATO map, the Baltic countries are like on the border with Russia.

If Finland and Sweden unite, we will definitely feel safer.

Of course, we have never considered Finland and Sweden as dangerous countries, but now we think we can share our security with them and we will benefit, our region will become safer.

If anything happens, we know our aid is just across the Baltic Sea to the north.

So we really expect to have them in NATO.

The views expressed in this interview are personal and do not represent any of its previous or current employers. "/ The Geopost /