In the current strategy of the West, the Baltic states have been ascribed a role of a tiny but an easy-to-launch irritant against Russia. The Baltics are active mainly when it comes to anti-Russian rhetoric not only in the bilateral relations, but also at the regional (Ukraine) and global (Syria) level, not to mention the domestic life of Russia.
During the last years, the format of the Baltic states’ anti-Russian activity have expanded certainly. In particular, the Baltic territories have been militarized at the behest of NATO. The efforts to pose a military threat to Russia from the Baltics have become more evident. Yet NATO explains its military build-up in the territory of the Baltic countries with the need to conduct drills and rotations.
The idea seemed so interesting to the NATO strategists that they have even made a telemovie and presented it on BBC in February 2016. The film tells about Russia’s alleged invasion of Latvia and NATO’s actions to repel it, which results in a nuclear war.
The British movie telling about the armed conflict of Russia and NATO in Latvia cannot claim any strategic novation. In June 2015, U.S. media (Vox news site) demonstrated a similar film where U.S. uses nuclear weapons in the war over Estonia.
The recent report by the Rand Corporation – Pentagon’s consultant - on the Baltic states harmoniously fits into the plots that does not rule out use of nuclear weapons and suggests increasing NATO’s military presence in the Baltics.
Even abstracting from the thesis of disproportionate use of force, addressing nuclear weapons seems ambiguous: either Western military admits that the alliance is helpless without nuclear weapons, or they see the Baltic States as a potential polygon to test nuclear weapons in Europe, especially ahead of Washington’s plans to modernize its nuclear warheads in the European theater of military operations.
It appears that Russia and Western Europe have strong reasons to demand legally binding commitments from the U.S. that it will not use nuclear weapons in Europe first.
A question arises as to whether it is Lithuania’s turn to be called the next potential area of the Russia-NATO armed conflict. However, the Estonian and Latvian options are not applicable to Lithuania. The Poles that who densely populate on Lithuania’s southeastern borders with Poland fit into another scenario. If they seek separatism – historically there have always been such trends – the Polish not the Russian military will hurry to liberate them. Apparently, it is for a reason that the Polish community in Lithuania demand the Lithuanian authorities to give also Polish names to the areas densely populated by the Poles. Otherwise, how the Polish military will be taking their bearings in the Vilnius regions and inside Vilnius?
Will the U.S. use nuclear weapons in such situation and will Great Britain oppose it? Such scenario may seem absurd, but it is not as absurd as the British television movie about Russia’s invasion in Latvia and the U.S. movie about Russia’s invasion of Estonia. Anyway, all this was a disservice to the Baltic States i.e. no company will invest money in the region, the Western patrons of which have invented a nuclear disaster for it.
This new wave of stir at NATO over the Baltic States is connected with the preparations for the Summit in Warsaw in July 2016 where the key issue on agenda may be deployment of troops in the Baltic region. Washington’s plans are reflected in the abovementioned report of Rand Corporation. The analysts of the corporation say, “a force of about seven brigades, including three heavy armored brigades — adequately supported by airpower, land-based fires, and other enablers on the ground and ready to fight at the onset of hostilities — could suffice to prevent the rapid overrun of the Baltic states.” According to Rand, such military build-up of NATO will cost it US$2.7 billion.
The NATO strategists have perhaps disregarded the fact that the territory of the Baltic States had been under control of the USSR for more than 50 years. Suffice it to recall that there was well-organized mobilization planning in the Soviet Union, which among others implied that the territory contained long-term surprises that could be activated when necessary.
What is the point of deploying the NATO troops and armory in the not-large territories of the Baltic states with open landscape? The bigger is the number of the NATO troops in the Baltic States, the more densely they will be deployed and the more military hardware is deployed there, the more damage NATO will suffer in case of a conflict, as the Baltic base area will be defeated immediately.
Maybe, U.S. seeks to sacrifice the European troops and get a reason to use nuclear weapons. Hence, the bigger is the number of troops and military hardware in the Baltic States, the stronger will be the holy anger of U.S. and the more indisputable will be its intention to use nuclear weapons in the Baltics.
In view of the radiation and other aftermaths of the use nuclear weapons in the Baltic states, Washington’s plans cannot but trouble the neighbor-countries: Germany, Sweden, Poland, Finland, Norway, and Denmark. Yet it is extremely difficult to find among them the ones who are brave, reasonable and willful enough to urge U.S. and Great Britain to explain their nuclear scenarios and demand guarantees that the U.S. and British scenarios will be nipped in the bud.
As regards the Baltic population, the security of which is allegedly so important for NATO, the U.S.-British nuclear scenarios will hardly trouble them much, as their life is survival. The level of healthcare and pension security in the Baltic States is much lower than the ones of the other EU countries, according to Eurostat. For instance, the annual spending on the medical services per capita is EUR508 in Latvia, EUR698 in Lithuania, and EUR763 in Estonia. In Denmark this figure is EUR4,655. The pensions in the Baltic States are far from the average statistical pension security in Europe. For instance, the average pension in Latvia is EUR1,217, in Lithuania – EUR1,150, and EUR944 in Estonia. The average pension in the EU is EUR2,623. At the end of 2015, in Latvia, representatives of the healthcare and educational sectors took the streets demanding higher wages. The government needed EUR16million for that purpose. Instead, the Government imported army radio stations from the U.S. for EUR67million and launched construction of special fencing on the Russian-Latvian border. Such situation is fraught with social unrest. Maybe the NATO troops to be deployed in the Baltic States will be given among others also the police functions to keep public order.
It appears that the West-European strategists neglect the evident conclusions from the abovementioned, as they are either in a state of military psychosis or in the grip of bloc mentality.
Vladimir Olenchenko, senior research fellow at the Center of European Studies, Institute of the World Economy and International Relations, Russian Academy of Sciences