I don’t think there is any evidence to suggest that Russia shot down an airliner. I have no doubt that there are agencies in Russia that would do that if they felt it necessary in the furtherance of their goals. But I do not see what Russia would have to gain by it. There was simply no motive.
It was not peaches and cream in Latvia under the Russian rule, especially under Stalin when it was not peaches and cream for Russians either. But don’t forget that Russia took Latvia from the Nazis at a time when Poles and Latvians were trying to migrate east into Russia for safety. Russia should have left Latvia as liberators in 1945 instead of holding onto it for another half century and thereby becoming occupiers instead.
But Russia did eventually leave Latvia voluntarily and recognised Latvian independence. If Russia wanted Latvia or Poland, then Latvia and Poland would still be controlled by Russia. Either way nine million German troops could not change that. I doubt if a few hundred NATO ones could. NATO in Latvia does nothing to protect Latvia. It just acts as a provocation on Russia’s border. That does nothing to protect Latvia. It just puts Latvia on Russia’s radar again and makes Latvia a possible target.
As far as Ukraine goes; Russia did not take part of Ukraine. Russia ejected Ukrainian troops from Crimea. Crimea has been Russian territory since Catherine II ousted the Ottoman Turks in the 1700s. Crimea had been part of Russian territory for longer than California has been part of the USA. Ukraine is a much newer country even than the USA. Ukraine was constructed by the early communists, cobbled together from a mixture of old Austro Hungarian and Russian states into one country. But Crimea was not part of it. Ukraine was only permitted a power sharing agreement over Crimea by Khrushchev, mostly because Khrushchev was consolidating his Ukrainian communist power base. Khrushchev had risen to power through the Ukrainian communist party.
When the Soviet Union finally dissolved; Ukraine was recognised as an independent country and Russia guaranteed to respect its sovereignty on two conditions; that it return all nuclear weaponry to Russia, and that it would commit to never joining any military alliance, particularly NATO. Ukraine agreed to these conditions. That treaty was recognised by the UN and by successive Russian and Ukrainian governments. But when Ukraine sought and was accepted as a NATO “member in waiting;” it willingly set itself on a collision course with Moscow.
It is not complicated. How would America have reacted if Mexico had joined the Warsaw Pact and had invited Russian troops to build bases on the banks of the Rio Grande? Really? How do you think the USA would react?
So it is Russia that is twitchy right now. Russia is twitchy because it left all of eastern Europe peacefully and in good faith. Now the USA is rushing in with NATO and stirring up the tension. In doing so NATO is making those small defenceless countries like Latvia; countries that Russia had not shown the slightest interest in before they joined NATO, into targets.
Russia has as much right to protect its borders as any other country but you do not stand on someone else’s door-stop, pointing a gun in their window and then accuse them of being aggressive when they react.