Friday, June 02, 2017

Actual Resistance to an Actual Threat

The NATO Baltic states are getting serious about coping with the Russian threat. They can't stop the Russians but they can resist until liberated.

Take a moment to spare some sympathy to our Baltic state allies whose best defense option is to resist a Russian occupation and hope that NATO liberates them:

Latvia, like the other two Baltic States, is not just spending more money on defense but also implementing many reforms in an effort to deal with return of the Russian military threat and the fact that the three Baltic States are tiny compared to Russia and in need of some new thinking on how to keep the Russians out. ...

The Russian government said it was willing to work with NATO in areas of mutual benefit but that did not work out. Now there is a state of undeclared war between Russia and NATO. These new NATO members are more worried about the renewed Russian aggression than the original NATO members (the U.S. and Western Europe). The nations of “east NATO” are asking for more presence by troops from “west NATO.” Some of the eastern members (especially Poland and the Baltic States) have called for the permanent basing of U.S. troops on their territory. The smaller states Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania believe Russia could overrun them in two days and senior NATO military commanders openly agree. Russia considers such talk more evidence of NATO aggression against Russia. Lithuanians have heard this kind of talk from Russia before and want to avoid the usual outcome.

The Baltic states are too small to build forces capable of halting the Russians at the border.

And the geography of the Baltic states is too dangerous to risk a Russian thrust through Belorus and Lithuania to reach the Baltic Sea and isolate any NATO troops sent to the Baltic states to defend them.

So the best hope is for NATO to preserve its combat power while the Russians overrun Estonia and Latvia, hold the line somewhere in Lithuania (while conquering Kaliningrad), and building up a force to counter-attack and liberate the Baltic territory controlled by Russia.

If our Europe-oriented special forces would focus on working with resisting Baltic citizens and soldiers to harass and kill Russian occupiers until the counter-offensive, that would help.

If American Marines operated in the island of the Baltic Sea off of the mainland to distract the Russians, add to the mayhem, and support the resistance, that would be great, too.

Indeed, we might consider a Tobruk-like bastion in Riga held by Marines and surviving Baltic state military units that retreat there.

I noted these options in a basic outline shortly after Russia invaded Ukraine.

Obviously, I anticipate that NATO allies would contribute to these efforts even as I specify American forces.

We should not let our Baltic allies down given what they will endure should Russia invade.