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A Latvian man casts his ballot papers at a polling station in Riga, Latvia, Oct. 4, 2014 (AP photo by Roman Koksarov).

Latvian Election Results Underscore Regional Tensions With Russia

Friday, Oct. 10, 2014

Last weekend, Latvia’s ruling coalition maintained its majority in parliamentary elections that were held against the backdrop of continued harassment from Russia. Latvia and its two Baltic neighbors, Estonia and Lithuania—all former Soviet republics and current members of NATO and the European Union—have watched Russia’s intervention in Ukraine with escalating concern.

While NATO’s Article 5 obligates the entire alliance to come to the defense of the Baltics in the event of a Russian attack, Russian President Vladimir Putin has been testing the limits of that commitment. In recent months, Russia has captured an Estonian intelligence officer in a cross-border raid, seized a Lithuanian fishing boat, staged large military exercises in the Baltic and allegedly threatened to invade all three countries. NATO, in turn, has deployed military forces to the region and held war games today in Latvia as a signal of commitment. In a speech in Estonia last month, U.S. President Barack Obama pledged: “As NATO Allies, we will meet our solemn duty, our Article 5 obligation to our collective defense. And today I want every Estonian and Latvian and Lithuanian to know that you will never stand alone.” ...

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