Are Baltic States the Next Crimea?

Latvia is now preparing to unplug from the Russian grid and everyone in the Baltic States (probably most clearly in Latvia) is on full alert following Putin-Trump 'summit' in Helsinki because the message from their perspective is that they are now going to be abandoned, like Crimea. They're pretty much readying for a Russian invasion. I'm not clear, though, on how this new energy grid set-up is going to work because it's going to run through waters by Kaliningrad (the Russian military exclave) and that seems rather vulnerable to me. 

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Most Russians living in Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania have no wish to rejoin the motherland, but that doesn't prevent hysteria about an invasion. Still, governments there hold regular military exercises fearing Russian expansion 

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6 minutes ago, Joanna said:

Most Russians living in Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania have no wish to rejoin the motherland, but that doesn't prevent hysteria about an invasion. Still, governments there hold regular military exercises fearing Russian expansion 

there is no reason to invade Baltic countries. Russia can just cut them off 

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Doesn't Canada/NATO have troops there?

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That's the whole point. Russia can't have the Baltic States in NATO. This is the entire issue. And now Trump is attacking NATO, so the Baltics know no one's got their back. 

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(edited)

The problems facing the Baltics go far beyond politics; they have no effective means for deterring Russia and Putin, and have population and fecundity rates that provide a grim prognosis for the future. Militarily, what keeps NATO commanders up at nights with nightmares is the so-called "Suwalki Gap," a stretch of at best 60 miles running from the point of the Kaliningrad Exclave to the border of Belarus.  The Suwalki Gap, named after the nearby Polish town of Suwalki, is the choke-point for any land movement from Poland (and thus the armies of Europe and Nato) into the Baltics, through Lithuania. Worse, that choke-point only has two roads of any size, and one railroad, whcih itself is single-track and totally vulnerable to getting knocked out. 

The two roads, Polish Routes 8 and 16, are simple single-lane country roads, and one has weight limitations on the bridges.  As a practical matter neither road can support the heavy main battle tanks of NATO, specifically the M1A2 Abrams. Without the Abrams, Europe might as well not even bother engaging in a land fight. And bringing in combat equipment by sea up the Baltic past the Kaliningrad is a non-starter.  

Additionally, the Lithuanians have let the first mile or so of the Suwalki Gap border grow think with impenetrable trees, plus parts of the Border are river, and even a National Arboretum Forest, so getting tanks through there is a huge exercise, probably not doable in a combat environment. 

Now you have the population problems.  Estonia, at 1.3 million; Latvia, at 1.9 million;  Lithuania, at 2.9 million, all are largely urban populations. The big urban center in Southernmost Lithuania is Vilnius, just over the border from Belarus.  That would be  knocked over in about six hours.  Further, these populations are aging fast, as is all of Europe, due to the very low fecundity rates.  None of Europe is reproducing sufficiently to maintain a steady-state population, not even close, and these countries are facing internal population shrinkage of dramatic proportions, masked a little bit by immigration - but the willingness of these migrant populations to take up arms against the Russians is problematic. Personally, I don't think they will.  The Baltics reproduce at 1.6 live births per fecund female;  Germany at 1.4;  Poland and much of the rest of Europe at 1.3 or even less.  Soldiers?  None on the horizon in the future.  At those reproductive rates, Russia can knock over much of Eastern Europe and move in ethnic Russians in resettlement programs, and simply take over the local populations, which are doomed to extinction.  

When you look at the size of the armies, it is unsettling.  Russia has some 900,000 men at arms  (dwarfed by the Chinese at 2.1 million, but their army is "bodies," not materiel). Europe is effectively defended by Ukraine (204,000), France (203,000), and Germany (177,000), although the willingness of these soldiers to go toe-to-toe with the Russians is doubtful. So the big gorilla protector of the Baltics and everything else in Europe is the United States, with an army of 1.35 million, with superbly trained soldiers, a very large blue-water navy capable of demolishing the Russians (and anybody else), and the best aircraft, drones, and missiles.  Plus the Army has a procurement budget of $650 billion, while Russia is at best about 60 billion.  The result: nobody can defeat the Americans, and nobody is going to try. 

But if the Yanks take a powder, then the picture is very grim.  The Baltics can muster a few thousand men, who (if they are smart) will melt into the hills and go to guerrilla warfare.   The aging populations of the Baltics (now at about 42-46 average age) is not going to reproduce and in a generation the soldier candidates are not there, cut by half. The immigrants in occupied Baltics would be all Russians. In effect, the territory and the populations will simply be absorbed, Borg style:  "Resistance is futile.  You will be absorbed."  (For you Star Trek fans). 

The Americans would have to set up and maintain the equivalent of the Ramstein Air Force Base in the Baltics, staff it with two divisions permanently, ship in at least 700 Abrams main battle tanks, and militarize the Suwalki Gap, staffing that with several brigades at least.  Who has the money for that?  Not the Baltics, that's for sure.  Not Poland.  The Ukrainians are tied down with Russian brigades inside the Donbas, and the seizure of Crimea,  That leaves the French and Germans, and of course the Americans, except that Trump has turned against them.  So right now, Russia holds all the cards.  Putin can overrun the Baltics with impunity, and nobody is going to do anything about it. Don't kid yourself. 

Edited by Jan van Eck
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(edited)

Nato forces in Baltic countries would be about 150 km from Petersburg- it is case of national security for Russia. Red line that cant be crossed. For me the biggest threat for peace in Europe in last 25 years is frantic NATO expansion eastward.

Edited by Tomasz
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You can't compare the Baltic States and Crimea. The Baltic States are EU member states and Russia will not attack a EU member state.

Why will you attack your main customer for oil and gas ?

All that discussion about a Russian invasion of the Baltic States is pure hysteria nurtured by the US. Frightening the Europeans with a Russian threat on eastern Europe is just a way to push the European countries to increase military spending and to buy more US weapons.

 

 

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(edited)

If Estonia and Latvia really want to have loyal russian inhabitants maybe in first step this countries should not disciminate Russian people in cruel way. This people for example doesnt have a citizenship , russian schools and organizations are opressed in many ways. 

I really cant understand how this is possible in European Union if this is really a union of human values.

And some say that NATO is also a alliance of values. But NATO members are= Turkey, Hungary, Poland and Baltic states that discriminate russian inhabitants = perfect target for hostile propaganda.

Edited by Tomasz

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