For more than a month, representatives of German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Union (CDU) and its Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU), have been engaged in preliminary discussions about creating a coalition government with two other smaller parties—the pro-business liberal (in the European sense) Free Democratic Party (FDP) and the environmentalist Greens. Following a long German habit of identifying political parties and their coalitions by traditional colors, the linking of Christian Democrats (Black), Liberals (Yellow), and Greens has been referred to as a “Jamaica” Coalition, reflecting the colors of the Caribbean nation’s flag.
NATO seems more united today than it has been at any time since the end of the Cold War. An aggressive Russia, unbowed by Western economic sanctions after its annexation of Crimea and intervention in eastern Ukraine, has driven NATO member countries closer together. However, if given the opportunity, an aggressive Russia could also put NATO in a position that could strain its cohesion and ultimately undermine its existence. One place where that could happen is in the Baltics states of Estonia, Lithuania, and Latvia.
As NATO expanded eastwards after the Cold War, the geography that the Alliance needed to defend changed significantly (See map). Rather than a relatively narrow front in Central Europe (dashed line), NATO now had to contend with a far wider front across Eastern Europe (solid line) stretching its defense capabilities. When the Baltic countries of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania joined the Alliance in 2004, they created an even greater operational challenge for NATO.