Here is a billboard from Riga, maybe three, four years ago. How about some bread?
A reminder that there are places where people are happy to find strength in numbers.
… you’ll enjoy the photographic essay, Inside the Suwalki Gap by Timothy Fadek at RoadsandKingdoms.com. It’s a nice orientation to the region where the quadrennial Zapad (“west” in Russian) Russia/Belarus military exercise has been underway for two days now.
The photo above is Vilnius, the Lithuanian capital. The only border between the Baltic states and another NATO country is the 64 mile wide Suwalki Gap, where Lithuania touches Poland. See more Poland and Lithuania photos at EarthPhotos.com.
Screen grab from a photo essay in The New Republic by photojournalist Mattia Vacca.
A rift has opened up across post Soviet Europe in the wake of the Riga Summit, (that’s Riga across the Daugava River, above) with all the former Soviet states lining up according to their perceived interests. Armenia and Belarus resist the final declaration in Riga, each beholden to Moscow for various protections, while Georgia, the Baltics and Ukraine clamor to camp under the EU umbrella.
The best way to decide what you think is to listen to respected scholars, but they line up equally on both sides. Andrew Michta and Judy Dempsey call the EU feckless while Stratfor and Brian Whitmore put President Putin on the back foot.
Who’s right? And with the injection of the US instigated FIFA controversy and the opportunity it affords the US to scold Russia and vice versa, what’s next?
It’s the first court date for Eston Kohver, the Estonian officer kidnapped by Russia, who has been held at Lefortovo prison since his arrest. His attorney, who was hired by the Estonian government, is Mark Feygin, who is also representing Ukrainian air force pilot Nadiya Savchenko, who has been held without bail by the Russians since at least early July. The way the Russian judicial system works, it’s hard to tell if hiring Feygin to represent Kohver helps or hurts.
Think having the FSB kidnap an Estonian in Estonia and haul him off to Russia is bad? How about having to live with architectural gems like this, left over from the Soviet era?
George Will is starting to follow me around. He wrote Wednesday that
“The Islamic State is a nasty problem that can be remedied if its neighbors, assisted by the United States, decide to do so. Vladimir Putin’s fascist revival is a crisis that tests the West’s capacity to decide.”
He’s right. I wrote here on CS&W on August 13th that
“at bottom ISIS is a band of thugs with an archaic worldview that a willful president and his or her allies, if they had a mind to, could clobber using Colin Powell’s overwhelming force commensurate with ISIS’s brutality. The challenge to Ukraine, on the other hand, is an assault on the world’s organizing principles, with the potential to collaterally undermine both NATO and the Obama administration.”
I had no idea, George, that you were a Common Sense and Whiskey fan, but I welcome you to follow me on Twitter @BMurrayWriter. Would have saved you three weeks on Wednesday’s column. I’ll help you with today’s huge Baltic news in a couple of days.
Happy to help, George. Cheers!