Posts in War On The Rocks
The Ghosts of Soviets Past: Unearthing the Memory of Occupation in Estonia

The opening lines from Adele’s hit song suddenly came on the car radio after a long stretch of Slavic folk music. It was minutes before midnight, and a detour along our northbound route through the Eastern Baltics had led us straight toward a Russian border crossing. Slightly delirious from hours of driving, we saw an opportunity for amusement and began to sing along to the eerily timed lyrics, attempting to outdo each other with impressions of Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin. The rows of stadium lights leading to the crossing cast an uneasy glow across the otherwise dark Estonian countryside. Briefly dismounting for an impromptu photo-op, we continued on to the next chapter of our next Baltic journey: Narva, a city transformed entirely by the Soviet period.

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War On The RocksWilliam Duval
The Ghosts of Soviets Past: Crawling Through the Decayed Nuclear Missile Bases of the USSR

“Da?” (Да) muttered the broad-shouldered man behind the diner counter, eyes apathetically glancing at the television mounted in the corner of the room playing Russian pop music videos. The place was a far cry from a favorable Yelp review, but it was the only open restaurant in the isolated municipality of Gulbene.  We occupied a table in the corner and noticed two other patrons giving us a piercing stare. It seemed we were more interesting to them than the scandalously-dressed teenage Russian pop-stars on TV, and the gaze lasted the full duration of our Latvian truck stop dinner.

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The Ghosts of Soviets Past: Two Army Intelligence Officers Explore an Abandoned Cold War Military City in Latvia

A few hundred miles southwest of the Latvian capital of Riga, near the Lithuanian border, lies the town of Skrunda, a bucolic municipality not unlike hundreds of other small towns and villages in the Latvian countryside. But several miles outside of the town center stands the inconspicuously named Skrunda-1, a ghost town that was once a closed city home to 5,000 Soviet soldiers, technicians, and their families.

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NATO at the Tactical Level

Amid ongoing debate and anxiety over the future of NATO and the defense spending of its member states, one aspect of the alliance is rarely mentioned: How does NATO work in practice? Commentators often write of NATO’s strategic position vis-à-vis Russia, but we hear little of how cooperation between the allies takes shape on the ground. During my recent deployment to Afghanistan — the only conflict zone where NATO’s Article V has been invoked — I had the chance to see exactly that: a view of NATO at the tactical level.

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War On The RocksAdam Maisel