NATO’s Baltic options

TOS-1A missile battery firing during Russian Army exercises
The superior weight of Russian hardware in the Baltic region, especially missile systems such as the TOS-1A thermobaric launchers, has forced NATO to respond (source: dpa)

NATO appears committed to buildup of conventional forces in the Baltic region

  • Political momentum behind a land-based “speed bump” strategy may be irresistible
  • A naval-based approach offers a flexible, lower-cost alternative

Early this year, RAND Corporation published findings from a now famous series of war games showing NATO’s inability to defend Estonia and Latvia in the event of a Russian invasion. The study reflected a growing realization in the alliance that something must be done to prevent the vulnerability of the Baltic countries from starting a war in Europe.

A year ago, NATO’s discussion of Baltic defense was couched in terms of hybrid warfare and “little green men.” Today it is much more focused on conventional military issues and the danger of nuclear escalation.

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