Ukraine war testing how Western democracies stand up to dictators

Leaders of the Baltic states say Putin will move forward when he senses weakness, but halt when he is firmly confronted. 'We know as Russia's neighbors that they count on your fear.'

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Columnists

April 22, 2022 - 4:08 PM

People gather at a registration center for internally displaced people after fleeing fighting in the southern city of Mariupol, arriving in a small convoy after the opening of a humanitarian corridor, in Zaporizhzhia on April 21, 2022. (Ed Jones/AFP via Getty Images/TNS)

As Russian forces regroup for a massive battle in eastern Ukraine, Americans are wondering how to help Ukraine repel them.

My suggestion: Listen to the leaders of the tiny Baltic democracies, Estonia, Latvia, and especially Lithuania. All are NATO members whose nations border Russia and who are deeply experienced in repelling the Kremlin.

Having lived under Soviet rule, the Balts have no illusions about the need to prevent Russian President Vladimir Putin from scoring a brutal “victory” over Ukraine, something which could still happen if NATO members don’t send heavy weapons quickly. Their leaders are blunt about the long-term threat to Western nations if they fail Ukraine.

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