- David A. Andelman: It's imperative that America sees defense of Baltic allies as a pillar of its international posture
- Fears remain that two decades of progress in the region could be snuffed in an instant by Russia's military, he says
David A. Andelman, editor emeritus of World Policy Journal and member of the board of contributors of USA Today, is the author of "A Shattered Peace: Versailles 1919 and the Price We Pay Today." Follow him on Twitter @DavidAndelman. The views expressed in this commentary are his own.
(CNN)There are few more vulnerable spots along NATO's entire perimeter than the Suwalki Gap, an about 60-mile stretch of territory and a critical rail line separating Poland from Lithuania, linking Russian Kaliningrad with Putin's staunch ally Belarus. If Vladimir Putin takes comfort in NATO's waffling, or doubts US willingness to spring to the defense of the Baltic republics, it's here any shootout between NATO and Russia could start. Or even World War III.