Magazine September 7, 2020, Issue

What the Baltic States Have to Fear from Russia

A woman walks past candles to commemorate 70 years since the largest Soviet mass deportations to Siberia from the Baltic states in Tallinn, Estonia, March 25, 2019. (Ints Kalnins/Reuters)
The Shadow in the East: Vladimir Putin and the New Baltic Front, by Aliide Naylor (I. B. Tauris, 256 pp., $27)

In the aftermath of Russia’s takeover of Crimea, there were widespread fears that the Baltic states, notwithstanding their membership in NATO, might be next. As Aliide Naylor relates in The Shadow in the East, those fears have since eased, but extreme vulnerability (Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia could be overrun in days) and constant low- and not-so-low-level Russian aggression against the Baltic trio continue to keep nerves on edge.

Russia’s assault on Ukraine has forced NATO to relearn the power of symbolism. Several thousand troops from other NATO allies are now present in the Baltic states at any time, a reminder that

This article appears as “Good Fences, Bad Neighbor” in the September 7, 2020, print edition of National Review.

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