The bucolic region around the Polish-Lithuanian border has long been known for its rolling farmlands, serene lakes and historic cities. To NATO strategists it is now also seen as a danger spot, Daniel Michaels reports in the Wall Street Journal.
Suwalki, a city of almost 70,000, sits along the 45-mile corridor of NATO territory between two Russian military strongholds. To the southeast is Belarus, a close Russian ally that has served as a base for its invasion of Ukraine. To the northwest is Kaliningrad, a chunk of Russia that was disconnected from the rest of the country by the breakup of the Soviet Union.
What worries NATO is that Russia, having seized the Crimean peninsula in 2014 and invaded Ukraine this year, might resort to force to try to take over the border region, which would link Kaliningrad with Belarus. Threatening comments from the Russian and Belarus governments have increased anxiety in the region, as have moves such as a bill recently introduced in Russia’s parliament to revoke Moscow’s 1991 recognition of Lithuania’s independence from the Soviet Union.