The Baltics fear European “strategic autonomy”

PERHAPS nowhere in Europe was John McCain mourned more deeply than in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. He had been one of a small group of American senators who in the 1990s called for NATO to encompass the Baltic states after four decades of Soviet rule. “He was always ready to listen to us and relate our problems and challenges to the US administration, Republican or Democrat,” says Juri Luik, Estonia’s defence minister. “He understood the role of NATO enlargement as part of the reunification of Europe; not everyone in Washington shared that.” Mr Luik has called for NATO’s new headquarters in Brussels to bear his name. Intentionally or not, such tributes also read like rebukes to President Donald Trump, whose commitment to transatlantic security remains as hazy as McCain’s was crystal-clear.

Baltic pro-Americanism is deep-rooted and intimately linked to the three states’ quest for freedom from Russia. Karlis Ulmanis spent years in exile in Nebraska before returning to Latvia, helping to wrangle…

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