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Texas 08-23-2008 02:17 PM

Beef-up Baltic defences against Russia
 
One of America's most influential military strategists has called for the Nato alliance to create a flank of "porcupine" defences across the Baltic states to protect them from future bullying by Russia.

By Colin Freeman, Chief Foreign Correspondent
Last Updated: 7:45PM BST 23 Aug 2008

Fred Kagan, the intellectual author of the successful US "troop surge" plan in Iraq, believes Nato's presence in the Baltics must be massively strengthened to pre-empt the risk of them being invaded in the same way as Georgia.
Such measures would infuriate Moscow, which last week warned that the installation of a US missile defence shield in Poland would ignite a new "arms race" between East and West.
But Mr Kagan, an expert on the Russian military who has the ear of hawks within the US administration, said that the West needed to match words with deeds if it was to stop Russia turning into an "intolerable, aggressive imperialistic" power.
"We need to help these countries develop sophisticated air defence and anti-tank capabilities that don't pose any offensive threat to Russia, but promise the possibility of very high casualties were they to attempt what they did in Georgia," said Mr Kagan in an interview with The Sunday Telegraph.
"Nato has to make a fundamental decision here about its legal and ethical obligations, and the only way we can really fulfil them is to help these countries defend themselves in advance of an attack."
His comments follow growing concern within the Baltic states - Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania - that Russia could engineer confrontations with them as it has with the government in Tbilisi.
Like Georgia, they are all home to large and restive populations of Russian speakers, who were moved there during Communist-era "Sovietisation", when Moscow sought to consolidate its influence in its "near abroad".
The fear is that Moscow could agitate separatist feeling within those Russian minorities in the same way it has done in the breakaway Georgian enclaves of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, generating a pretext to send tanks in to protect what it would claim were in effect "Russian citizens".
At present, Mr Kagan points out, there would be little do prevent them rolling across the border as they did into South Ossetia - despite all three now being members of Nato, the alliance has done little to help them build up robust anti-tank capabilities, sophisticated air defence systems, or large reserve armies.
Although any Russian action against a full Nato member would be a far greater act of aggression than its recent incursion into Georgia, Moscow might be tempted to try it in the Baltics as a way of testing Nato's resolve, knowing that the alliance might dither about deploying even conventional forces straightaway. Turning each country into a defensive "porcupine", he argues, would make such a move almost unthinkable in the first place.
"I think that Russia does have designs on the Baltic states, and they have established a precedent in Georgia where they think they can use force to defend Russian minorities in other countries," he said.
"The whole purpose of Nato is to deter war, and only secondly to fight if war breaks out. The Russians knew that Georgia would be easy, but I would like them to know that somewhere like Estonia would be very hard."
Given the outcry it would provoke from Russia, it is uncertain whether Nato would approve such measures. Dan Goure, a Pentagon consultant, said: "I don't know that anybody specifically backs it, but I think it is a likely subject for consideration"
The Baltic states have been notably outspoken in their criticism of Russia for its invasion of Georgia, but so far they not publicly said what additional security they might now be seeking from the Atlantic alliance in its wake.
Harri Tiido, the deputy under-secretary of the Estonian Foreign Ministry, and until recently Estonia's ambassador to Nato, told The Sunday Telegraph that it was at present a "theoretical question." A source in Whitehall, meanwhile, argued that a country's membership of Nato alone was enough to deter Russia. "I doubt that even the most hot-headed Russian general would attack a Nato country," he said.
However, Mr Kagan a former professor at America's West Point military academy, said: "The Baltic states are certainly conveying privately, if not publicly, what they need. If I had to put money I would say this is what we will have to do, as the risks involved are huge. Are we prepared to have the Russians tell us that we cannot offer assistance, and give them a veto over what we can offer?"
Alastair Cameron, head of the European Security Program at the Royal United Services Institute, agreed that the invasion of Georgia had caused "tremendous concern" within the Baltics as to whether existing defences were adequate, but doubted that there would be any dramatic ramping up straightaway.
"Had Lithuania or Estonia been the target of the recent Russian campaign, they would have been in a position to take ground in a very similar way to how they did in Georgia," he said.
"I think we are still very much at the diplomatic level in terms of dealing with these kind of disputes at present, but I would think that something like might be on the table in terms of long-term defensive planning measures."

Exo1 08-23-2008 02:28 PM

Good article Tex, and very definative on Russian motives and strategy.... such strategy ironically enough was employed by Nazi german in its initial move east in 38,39....

jrj1000 08-23-2008 05:41 PM

Theres a fine line IMO between covering our own arses and going out of our way to back an angry bear into a conner
Russia has been in hibernation and now its awake its hungry and ready for the feast...but you know what they say about bears...never run from one..always stand your ground

Exo1 08-30-2008 05:00 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by jrj1000 (Post 68326)
Theres a fine line IMO between covering our own arses and going out of our way to back an angry bear into a conner
Russia has been in hibernation and now its awake its hungry and ready for the feast...but you know what they say about bears...never run from one..always stand your ground

I prefer the phrase "a .308 will put an angry bear to sleep, just shoot and wait... if you do it right, you will be alright"...

jrj1000 08-31-2008 09:14 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Exo1 (Post 68670)
I prefer the phrase "a .308 will put an angry bear to sleep, just shoot and wait... if you do it right, you will be alright"...

Nice one Exo...that about says it all really:cool:

Exo1 09-01-2008 01:55 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by jrj1000 (Post 68703)
Nice one Exo...that about says it all really:cool:

Right on brotherman!!...

torspo[fin] 09-01-2008 04:04 PM

Russia is not after a stand off between EU says Putin..

well there is some region in the baltics which we dearly
love and call the inhabitants cousins/brothers of ours.

we once have been forced watch the country over run by soviets
with our hands tied.

any guesses?

:rolleyes:

well. i hope the things mellow out.

jrj1000 09-01-2008 05:54 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by torspo[fin] (Post 68742)
Russia is not after a stand off between EU says Putin..

Well thats alright then Torps...if Putin says it it must be true...my concern has just vanished thanks to that statement...cheers mate:rolleyes:

Quote:

Originally Posted by torspo[fin] (Post 68742)
well there is some region in the baltics which we dearly
love and call the inhabitants cousins/brothers of ours.
we once have been forced watch the country over run by soviets
with our hands tied.
any guesses?

No... give us a clue



Quote:

Originally Posted by torspo[fin] (Post 68742)
well. i hope the things mellow out.

Dont we all mate...but the slightest thing could tip it over the edge...Ukraine being one

torspo[fin] 09-01-2008 07:41 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by jrj1000 (Post 68750)
No... give us a clue

nah.. no clues..

Estonia.

"Zweihänder"

lets see how it goes.

jrj1000 09-01-2008 09:57 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by torspo[fin] (Post 68760)
nah.. no clues..

Estonia.

"Zweihänder"

lets see how it goes.

Of course yes Estonia...it will be intresting to see what happens...but lets hope Putin and his mates dont go down that road..any further Russian military actions will blow it up

I think Ukraine could be another conflict point..


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