CENTRE for POLICY ANALYSIS

CENTRE for POLICY ANALYSIS

“Social progress can be measured by the social position of the female sex” - Karl Marx

Issue in foreign Policy


NATO's VULNERABILITY IN BALTIC NATIONS


NATO PROTECING ITS BALTIC's  

Russia has now battered neighbouring states three times, with its second invasion of Ukraine still functioning. Vladimir Putin's pursuit of stronger Russian influence along Moscow's boundary has resulted what nearly a generation of Post-Cold War peace and stability was in Europe and restored genuine reasons to fear from Moscow's motive among its neighbouring states. After effecting eastern Ukraine, the next most plausible aims for an attempted Russian force is the Baltic Republics of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. Like Ukraine, all three were the parts of Soviet Union for many years, gaining independence only on its abolition. The three are also connected to the Russian border. Also like Ukraine, Estonia and Latvia are home to fairly large ethnic Russian populations that have been at best roughly integrated into the two nations' post-independence social and political widespread and that renders Russia a self-justification for involving in Estonian and Latvian affairs. The Baltic States are members of NATO, which means that Russian aggression toward them would trigger Article V of the North Atlantic Treaty (NATO)-the collective defence provision according to which an attack against any signatory is considered to be an attack against all. This makes an obligation on the part of the United States and its alliance members to take a stand with the Baltic Countries. So, the question is should Russia actively look for and violent destabilisation or continue to attack them. In a September 2014 speech in Tallinn, President Barack Obama effectively and strongly stated that commitment: 

"We will defend our NATO allies, and that means every ally. . . . and we will defend the territorial integrity of every single ally. . . . because the defence of Tallinn and Riga and Vilnius is just as important as the defence of Berlin and Paris and London. . . . Article 5 is crystal clear: An attack on one is an attack on all. . . . we'll be here for Estonia. We will be here for Latvia. We will be here for Lithuania. You lost your independence once before. With NATO, you will never lose it again." 

Sadly, neither the United States nor its NATO allies are presently ready to back up the President's forceful statement.  

On July 8-9, 2016 the NATO's Warsaw summit which was held in Warsaw, Poland. Since 2014 this summit was the second meeting of all the alliances 28 member countries and their governments. Over the last two years, NATO has taken some significant steps to fortify its territorial defence capacities and to deter Russia. 

The important outcome of the Warsaw summit was a developed NATO presence in Eastern Europe. The measures implemented since Wales, many scholars and analysts, comprising the authors of a February 2016 report by the Rand Corporation argued that "as presently postured, NATO cannot successfully defend the territory of its most exposed members." In reply to this NATO leaders have decided for a more solid multinational forward presence to "make it plain that crossing NATO's borders is not an option." The allies proclaimed new rotational deployments of four combat battalions in Warsaw, about 800-1,200 troops each to Poland and the Baltic States. These multinational battalions are hopefully to be in position by early 2017. Each battalion will be led by a framework country with contributions from other members. The lead and contributing countries are as follows:  

  • In Estonia, the UK will lead a battalion with additional contributions from France and Denmark.

  • In Latvia, Canada will lead a battalion with additional contributions from Poland, Slovenia, Albania and Italy. 

  • In Lithuania, Germany will lead a battalion with additional contributions from France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Croatia, the Netherlands and Norway. 

  • In Poland, the United States will lead a battalion with additional contributions from the UK and Romania.   

In Warsaw, the members also agreed to increase air, sea, and land forces in the Black Sea area. Romania will host a multinational land brigade with a contribution from Bulgaria. Germany, Canada, the Netherlands, Turkey, and the United States have agreed to deploy land, air, naval vessels to the sea region.  

The military presence of NATO in the three Baltic States, Poland, and Romania have planned to rotate extra troops in the region, but the recent shortage in deployment to the permanent positioning of forces made these nations require other members support. The United States and Western European states have defied calls to permanently deploy troops in Baltic countries. As per the enhanced NATO presence has been directed to as "continuous" but in a sequential order. Germany, France, and Italy have stressed the importance to pursue the dual-track approach to Russia that resembles deterrence with dialogue, for these members, efforts to reassemble cooperative mutual relations with Moscow should be given as much priority, as efforts to deter Russia. German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier a strong exponent of this episode has criticised NATO's focus on deterrence. The reported comments made in June 2016, Steinmeier compared a military practice of NATO member states and partner states in Poland to "saber-rattling and war cries."He also stated "whoever believes that a symbolic tank parade on the alliance's eastern border will bring security, is mistaken." NATO and U.S. officials subsequently repulsed Steinmeier's comments.  

EXTERNAL CHALLENGES  

During the Cold War, NATO positioned eight Allied corps along the border between West Germany and its Warsaw act neighbours to the east. More than 20 allied divisions were stationed to defend that frontier, with much more planned to flow in as reinforcements before and during any conflict. The borders that Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania share with Russia and Belarus are roughly the same length as the one that separated West Germany from the Warsaw Pact. They are, however, defended only by the indigenous forces of the three Baltic states, which muster the rough equivalent of a light infantry brigade each. Since Russia's invasion of Crimea, other NATO countries, including the United States, have rotated forces through the Baltic's, but these have typically been in battalion strength or smaller—hardly enough to defend the republics against a plausible Russian attack. The distances in the theatre also favour Russia. From the border to Tallinn along the main highways is about 200 km; depending on the route, the highway (versus crow-flight) distance to Riga is between about 210 and 275 km. From the Polish border to Riga, on the other hand, is about 325 km as the crow flies; to Tallinn, almost 600 km. And to get anywhere from Poland, NATO forces would have to transit the "Kaliningrad corridor", a 110- to a 150-km-wide stretch of territory between the Russian enclave and Belarus that could be subject to long-range artillery and flank attacks from both sides and would require a commitment of (scarce) NATO forces to secure. The terrain in the theatre is a mix, with large open areas interspersed with forested regions; lakes; and, in some places, sizeable wetlands. Off-road mobility in parts of all three Baltic countries could be difficult, especially for wheeled vehicles. There is, however, a fairly robust network of roads and highways throughout, and there are few large rivers to serve as natural defensive lines and barriers to movement. Our analysis sought to account for the effects of movement and combat of this variability in terrain. To be sure, Russia's army is much smaller than its Soviet predecessor. Today, it can muster for operations in its Western Military District (MD)—the region adjacent to the Baltic States about 22 battalions, roughly the same number of divisions forward deployed in the non-Soviet Warsaw Pact countries in 1990. These forces appear more than adequate, however, to overwhelm whatever defence the Baltic armies might be able to present.  

Present NATO posture cannot endorse commitments: President Obama regardless of his given statement in Tallinn, a series of reports shows the inability of NATO's present posture to protect the Baltic nations from a possible Russian attack, the active Russian forces from the Western Military District and the Kaliningrad region that sits on the northeastern border of Poland and also the part of sovereign Russia, including the Baltic Sea coast sums approximately 27 manoeuvre battalions in a short warning battle to occupy either Estonia and Latvia or both. The strategic goal of the invasion was to demonstrate NATO's inability to protect its most vulnerable members and divide the alliance, reducing the threat it presents from Moscow's point of view. The scenario assumed about a week of warning, which enabled NATO to flow some reinforcements into the Baltic's- mainly light infantry units that could be speedily air transported, along with air power. The two sides adopted strategies that were generally similar across the games played. The Red players typically made the main effort toward the Latvian capital of Riga, with a secondary attack that quickly secured the predominantly ethnic Russian areas of northeast Estonia, and then proceeded toward Tallinn. The NATO players, recognising that they had woefully inadequate forces to mount anything resembling a forward defence, sought instead to use indigenous forces to delay Red's advance along major axes while positioning the bulk of their forces in and around Tallinn and Riga in an attempt to sustain a minimal lodgement in and around the two capitals. The outcome was, bluntly, a disaster for NATO. Across multiple plays of the game, Russian forces eliminated or bypassed all resistance and were at the gates of or actually entering Riga, Tallinn, or both, between 36 and 60 hours after the start of hostilities. Four factors appeared to contribute most substantially to this result. First and obviously, the overall correlation of forces was dramatically in Russia's favour. Although the two sides' raw numbers of manoeuvre battalions 22 for Russia and 12 for NATO are not badly disproportionate, seven of NATO's are those of Estonia and Latvia, which are extremely light, lack tactical mobility, and are poorly equipped for fighting against an armoured opponent. Indeed, the only armour in the NATO force is the light armour in a single Stryker battalion, which is credited with having deployed from Germany during the crisis build up prior to the conflict. NATO has no main battle tanks in the field. Meanwhile, all Russia's forces are motorised, mechanised, or tank units. Even their eight airborne battalions are equipped with light armoured vehicles, unlike their U.S. counterparts. Second, Russia also enjoys an overwhelming advantage in tactical and operational fires. The Russian order of battle includes ten artillery battalions (three equipped with tube artil-manoeuvrability meant that they could be pinned and bypassed if the Russian players so desired. By and large, NATO's infantry found themselves unable even to retreat successfully and were destroyed in place. Finally, while NATO airpower was generally able to take a substantial toll on advancing Russian troops, without adequate NATO ground forces to slow the attack's momentum, there is simply not enough time to inflict sufficient attrition to halt the assault. Airpower is rate limited, and against a moderately competent adversary which is how we portrayed the Russian Air Force, NATO's air forces had multiple jobs to do, including suppressing Russia's arsenal of modern surface-to-air defences and defending against possible air attacks on NATO forces and rear areas. This further limited NATO air's ability to affect the outcome of the war on the ground. Without heavy NATO ground forces to force the attackers to slow their rate of advance and assume postures that increased their vulnerability to air strikes, Russian players could meter their losses to air by choosing how to array and move their forces. 

PRESENT CHANGES IN THE US POLICY  


This issue, of course, is a turning point for Warsaw summit and the future of NATO. Following the November presidential elections with a transform in US policy likely, the Warsaw Summit will also need to reflect on a set of big issues connecting to "burdensharing" and the maintenance of capacity of European forces with their American pendants. All of these conditions will affect the defence planning of NATO because such questions directly strike on the position of NATO in an altering US extensive strategy and in specific what effect such changes would probably have on European defence posture, levels and structure. As the Americans are taking up an entire host of future force technologies to future-proof their future force. What effect will advanced technologies have on alliance cooperation in the so-called 6G revolution and their adverse impacts in areas such as artificial intelligence, drone technology, nano-technology, cyber, missile defence etc? After that what should be the flow of European investments to be invested between high to low or medium to low capabilities and capacities, the effect of such investments on NATO's interoperability? What defence and industrial strategy is needed to actualise both capability and capacity? All of these issues will influence on a new US government which oblige to insist an equitable sharing of burdens on the terms it fixes, rather than ominous European academic efforts to describe burden-sharing by second means and appear too vulnerable is power. What will be the new administration's requirement from the other member's defence related plan policies that have been discussed at Warsaw, such as distinctive partnerships, defence related security capacity building? Especially, what decision will America make over the next decade if the NATO allies reject to meet interests of the US?  

NATO and Russia through the lens of Donald Trump: President Donald John Trump showed his Earlier appraisal of NATO as "obsolete", quoting the artwork of a counterterrorism split as the cause for this change of opinion still, President Trump calls that NATO as it stands as a "Bad deal" for the US. He sketched international censure when he noted that US obligations under Article 5 of the NATO should be conditional on nation's financial support to the treaty. President Trump expresses approbation for President Putin's leadership style stating him "a better leader than Obama." In the wake of an accused Russian cyber hack into the Democratic National Committee (DNC), Mr Trump made an open public statement prompting Russia to hack into Hillary Clinton's email, he has since portrayed those comments as sarcastic. In a departure from his party, Mr Trump seemed to signal that his administration would not render lethal weapons for protection to the Ukrainian government and that he would bethink to admit that Crimea as Russian.

CONCLUSION 

NATO's vulnerability in Baltic nations will not be the same if NATO will take the fast effective actions. On May 19, 2016, NATO foreign ministers took the decision toward inviting Montenegro to unite the alliance by signing NATO's formal accession policy. All 28 member states now must approve the protocol agreeing to their own procedures.  

NATO's "Open Door" enlargement policy for some allied states, ongoing territorial disputes with Russia in countries such as Georgia and Ukraine could be a robust deterrent to expanding membership invitations to these countries. For their part, NATO officials stress that the allies have supported their allegiance to NATO's "open door" enlargement policy, besides this NATO's member states should also focus on the increment of its annual defence expenditure to balance the region strategically. 

Unfortunately, Russia does not show any interest to be a productive partner for NATO. The most effortful measure to uphold stability in Europe would be in cooperation with Russia. While diplomatic situation should continue and negotiating channels should be kept open, our dialogue should operate on solid and conformable facts rather than on abstract emotional exchanges. Since Russia has moved away from the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces of Europe (CFE) Treaty regime, there have been very few possibilities left for this.  

SOURCES  


1. https://obamawhitehouse.archives.gov/the-press-office/2014/09/03/remarks-president-obama-people-estonia 

2. https://fas.org/sgp/crs/row/R44550.pdf 

3. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/nato-russia-baltic-states-overrun-in-hours-rand-corporation-report-a7384381.html

4. https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/nov/15/baltic-states-fearful-presidenttrump-nato-latvia-estonia-lithuania-ukraine 

5. https://www.rand.org/content/dam/rand/pubs/research_reports/RR1200/RR1253/RAND_RR1253.pdf 

6. http://www.theindependentbd.com/home/printnews/65662 

7. http://foreignpolicy.com/2016/02/03/if-russia-started-a-war-in-the-baltics-nato-would-losequickly/ 

8. http://carnegieeurope.eu/strategiceurope/64244 

9. http://www.nato.int/cps/en/natohq/news_144647.htm 

10. https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2016/07/russia-nato-trump-shirreff/492938/ 

11. http://www.nato.int/cps/en/natolive/topics_50090.htm

12. http://www.fpa.org/ckfinder/userfiles/files/2016%20Election%20Guide(2).pdf 

13. http://www.rand.org/content/dam/rand/pubs/perspectives/PE100/PE143/RAND_PE143.pdf