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NATO needs to protect Belarus’ neighbours, including Latvia and Lithuania, from a growing security threat

Whitmore, 9-15, 21, Brian Whitmore is a Nonresident Senior Fellow at the Atlantic Council’s Eurasia Center, an Assistant Professor of Practice at the University of Texas at Arlington, and host of The Power Vertical Podcast., Russian-Belarusian military merger accelerates on NATO’s eastern flank

In recent weeks, the military merger between Russia and Belarus has accelerated. Clad in fatigues, Lukashenka surveyed the joint Russian-Belarusian Zapad-2021 military exercises on September 12 and said he expects to receive USD 1 billion worth of arms from Russia by 2025. Zapad-2021, which began on September 10 and will run until September 16, could turn out to be the largest military exercise in Eastern Europe in four decades. Zapad-2021 caps off a year in which the armed forces of Russia and Belarus have participated in a record number of joint drills. "Since 2020, Russian forces have conducted a series of joint exercises with Belarus and maintain a regular presence in the country," military analyst Michael Kofman, director of the Russian Studies Program at the CNA Corporation, wrote in War on the Rocks. "Moscow’s military presence in Belarus is expanding and taking on a more permanent character." But while the exercises have NATO and Belarus's neighbors on high alert, even more disturbing is what appears to be a buildup of permanent Russian military infrastructure inside the country. Russia has already sent Sukhoi Su-30 fighter jets to the Baranovichi air base in western Belarus. The jets and their pilots will be permanently based in Belarus, where they will fly joint missions and patrol the two countries' borders. Days before the aircraft arrived, Russian anti-aircraft missile troops began deploying to the western Belarusian city of Hrodna, near the border with Poland and Lithuania, to set up a joint military training center. At a time when the United States is increasingly focused on the emerging threat from China, the escalating militarization of Belarus is significantly raising the threat level in the European theater. The expanding Russian military footprint in Belarus represents the most significant qualitative change in the security equation on NATO's eastern flank since Moscow's 2014 annexation of Crimea and armed intervention in Ukraine's Donbas region. As security concerns grow, Belarus's western neighbors are currently fortifying their borders. This is partially to deal with a migrant crisis that Lukashenka has manufactured by flying in migrants from across the Middle East to Minsk and then facilitating their illegal entry into Europe, but it is also partially in response to the growing militarization of the region. Poland has deployed hundreds of troops and is laying barbed wire along its border with Belarus. Lithuania's government recently announced that it would erect barbed wire fencing along 100 kilometers of its border with Belarus by April 2022. Additionally, the foreign and defense ministers of the Baltic states and Poland gathered in Latvian capital Riga on September 13 to discuss a joint response to conventional and hybrid threats. "While each country has the right to conduct military exercises, limited transparency, the wider context of the maneuvers, and accompanying hybrid activities raise our concerns," Polish Foreign Minister Zbigniev Rau said. As William Courtney, who served as US Ambassador to Georgia and Kazakhstan, wrote in The Hill this week, four decades ago, the Soviet Union used the Zapad-1981 military exercises to pressure Poland into cracking down on the country’s independent Solidarity trade union movement. Three months after the exercises, Poland's Communist rulers got the message and declared martial law. Lukashenka appears to have already gotten Moscow’s message. He has cracked down on his country’s pro-democracy opposition and is eagerly acquiescing in Moscow's efforts to turn Belarus into an extension of Russia's Western Military District. The soft annexation of Belarus is gathering steam. In Poland, it took nearly a decade before the Moscow-backed dictatorship eventually fell. The West may need to play a similarly long game in Belarus. But in the near term, the United States and NATO need to take steps to protect Belarus's neighbors from what is a rapidly escalating security threat.

Independent European efforts fail

Palacio, 9-14, 21, Ana Palacio, a former minister of foreign affairs of Spain and former senior vice president and general counsel of the World Bank Group, is a visiting lecturer at Georgetown University., https://www.project-syndicate.org/commentary/eu-strategic-autonomy-after-afghanistan-future-of-nato-by-ana-palacio-2021-09

Every so often, those visions inspire vehement calls for reform, with France typically leading the charge. But such calls have quickly faded. Discord among EU and, more importantly, among NATO member states – driven partly by a cultural aversion to defense spending – has been an insurmountable barrier. Such was the fate of the EU Battlegroups: battalion-size forces, composed of units from various member states, adhering to the EU’s Common Security and Defense Policy. Despite reaching “full operational capability” in 2007, they were never deployed, owing to internal disagreements. So far, the current round of reflection seems to be following a similar pattern. Before the last evacuation flights left Kabul, European leaders were launching fresh appeals for strategic autonomy. Josep Borrell, the EU’s high representative for foreign affairs and security policy, said the withdrawal should be a “wake-up call,” spurring the EU to “invest more in its security capabilities and develop the ability to think and act in strategic terms.”… For now, this is a cost the EU cannot cover: its 2021-27 budget devotes only €13 billion ($15.3 billion) to security and defense. To achieve true strategic autonomy, the bloc will have to muster far more political will in the coming years. And this may well be possible at a time when EU leaders face the prospect of another wave of migration and Afghanistan’s re-emergence as a terror sanctuary – developments that would test Europe’s border security, political stability, and capacity for humanitarian missions. In any case, true strategic autonomy remains more of a long-term ideal than a feasible short-term objective.

No risk at all that Russia will attack Europe, NATO as it is deters

Kimmage & Muzergues, 9-11, 21, Michael Kimmage is a professor of history at the Catholic University of America. His most recent book is The Abandonment of the West: The History of an Idea in American Foreign Policy, which appeared in 2020 with Basic Books, Twenty Years After 9/11, the West Is Far from Defeated, https://nationalinterest.org/feature/twenty-years-after-911-west-far-defeated-193445?page=0%2C1 Thibault Muzergues is a European political analyst and the author of War in Europe? From Impossible War to Improbable Peace, which will be published in 2022 with Routledge.

As foreign and security policy shifts from terrorism—which remains a real threat—to more classical state-to-state power politics, the Western alliance remains a dynamic, near impregnable force. Despite numerous provocations and invasions at NATO’s doorstep, Russia has never dared to confront NATO militarily, demonstrating the military resilience of the alliance and its continued relevance. In the Baltic Republics and around Central Europe, the West’s power is hardly symbolic or rhetorical. The choice to move away from Eurasian domination to the West in the 1990s was made with the understanding that adhesion to NATO was pivotal. Countries like Ukraine have come to know very well the costs of aspiring to join the West but not belonging to its security framework.

NATO has stopped war in Europe and terrorism in the West

Kimmage & Muzergues, 9-11, 21, Michael Kimmage is a professor of history at the Catholic University of America. His most recent book is The Abandonment of the West: The History of an Idea in American Foreign Policy, which appeared in 2020 with Basic Books, Twenty Years After 9/11, the West Is Far from Defeated, https://nationalinterest.org/feature/twenty-years-after-911-west-far-defeated-193445?page=0%2C1 Thibault Muzergues is a European political analyst and the author of War in Europe? From Impossible War to Improbable Peace, which will be published in 2022 with Routledge.

The first of its strengths is the awesome defensive power of the Western military alliance, and particularly NATO. The fact that nobody has dared to challenge it since its creation in the late 1940s makes it a quiet but pivotal success. Europe’s state of nature is war, illustrating the Pax Americana that has reigned inside NATO for almost seventy-five years as a remarkable accomplishment in itself. In the war on terror, Western powers have been able to react not only to the terrorist threat but to the changing tactics of jihadists in targeting European or American targets. This has not impeded all attacks, such as in Madrid in 2004, London in 2005, or Paris in 2015-2016; but none of them reached the scale and intensity of 9/11. A remarkable feature of the war on terror, despite having started on American soil, is that it mostly played out in foreign theaters, and not in the West. In a confrontation, this is not a sign of weakness.

No European alternative to NATO

Keating, 9-9, 21, Europe Still Doesn’t Have a Realistic Alternative to NATO, Dave Keating is an American-European journalist who has been based in Brussels for 12 years. Originally from the New York City area, he has in the past covered the halls of Congress in Washington, the courtrooms of Chicago, the boardrooms of London, the cafes of Paris and the climate campaigns of Berlin, Europe Still Doesn’t Have a Realistic Alternative to NATO, https://www.worldpoliticsreview.com/trend-lines/29946/europe-still-doesn-t-have-a-realistic-alternative-to-nato

The criticism of NATO is also coming from some of the most unlikely sources, including among conservative politicians in Germany and Britain who have historically been among the most ardent defenders of the trans-Atlantic alliance. Armin Laschet, the center-right candidate to replace German Chancellor Angela Merkel in this month’s elections, called the withdrawal “the biggest debacle that NATO has suffered since its founding.” Former British Prime Minister Theresa May asked the British parliament, “What does it say about NATO if we are entirely dependent on a unilateral decision taken by the United States?” May added that there needs to be an “alternative alliance” to NATO, consisting of European countries that can act as necessary when the U.S. refuses to. But it is worth asking what that alliance would look like and who would run it. The Treaty of the European Union contains a collective defense clause. But the bloc has long struggled to stand up an operational common defense capability, along the lines that France has long advocated for. As Paris is well-aware, there are only two significant militaries in Europe—its own and that of the U.K. With Brexit, it is difficult to see how the U.K. could be part of such a common defense arrangement. And many EU members, particularly in Eastern Europe and the Nordic countries, remain deeply skeptical of any European defense plan that could undermine NATO. This is not the first time the argument in favor of EU defense has reared its head. Talk of establishing a sovereign and autonomous EU military force, independent of the United States, has become increasingly commonplace since the election of former U.S. President Donald Trump in 2016. Trump routinely cast doubt on whether Washington would defend Europe in the event of a Russian invasion of NATO’s Eastern European member countries—the alliance’s central purpose. But each time European politicians appear more willing to confront the continent’s overreliance on U.S. security guarantees, discussions inevitably descend into the infighting and confusion that have long plagued these debates, with any commitments that end up being made on paper having little practical value in reality. It is worth asking what an alternative to NATO would look like and who would run it. Previous efforts to create an EU collective defense instrument have similarly stumbled. In 1999, EU leaders agreed to establish a 50,000-strong rapid response force by 2003. But amid the turmoil of the French and Dutch rejection of the EU constitution in 2005, this plan was shelved. A scaled-down version known as the EU Battlegroup consisting of a standby force ranging from 1,500 to 4,000 personnel, became operational in 2005, but has never been used. In 2017, the EU established the Permanent Structured Cooperation, or PESCO, which established a format for joint development and procurement projects and pooled resources of military forces from individual EU member states. But this has been scarcely used since its creation, with Denmark and Malta refusing to participate. It was noticeable that in his long interview, Michel felt empowered to speak publicly about the flaws in Europe’s reliance on the U.S. in a way he never has before, but he still failed to put forward any practical alternatives to the status quo. For that, all eyes remain on French President Emmanuel Macron, who incredibly has avoided saying anything like, “I told you so!” over the past few weeks, despite the sharp criticism he received in the German and British media for his 2019 remarks describing NATO as “brain dead.” France has long been skeptical of NATO, and they anticipated the Afghanistan debacle, even as Germany, the U.K. and Italy refused to trust their own instincts and uncritically went along with American assurances that the U.S.-backed Afghan government in Kabul would hold for at least nine months. French intelligence assessed that Kabul would fall imminently, leading French officials to evacuate their citizens and personnel in early July, well before other NATO partners. As interesting to observe is the about-face in the British and German media, which have now been asking over the past weeks, “Was France right all along?” The humiliating experience of Afghanistan surely gives Macron the political capital within the European Council to make a forceful case for an EU collective defense arrangement. Meanwhile, NATO’s leadership is scrambling to defend the alliance and poke holes in proposals for more EU defense integration. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg gave an interview to the British newspaper The Telegraph, known for its anti-EU stance, warning that EU defense can “never replace NATO” and that “any attempt to weaken the bond between North America and Europe will not only weaken NATO, it will divide Europe.” That Stoltenberg chose The Telegraph for his interview corroborates the assessment of one NATO insider, who told me that of all the reactions to the Afghanistan debacle, NATO leadership has been most worried and caught off-guard by remarks from the U.K., traditionally the staunchest NATO defender on this side of the Atlantic. The comments from Theresa May, in particular, sent the alliance leadership into a panic. Meanwhile, my source added, “there is complete denialism in the NATO bubble” about the realities of the challenges facing the trans-Atlantic alliance. “Rather than being their country’s representative to NATO, many ambassadors see themselves as being representatives of NATO to their country,” the insider said. This reflects the groupthink that has taken hold in NATO’s corner of Brussels, which is far removed from the EU Quarter and in many ways seems like another world. Expect that NATO bubble to continue defending the alliance, rather than come up with solutions to the problems it is facing, in the months ahead.

European defense without the US won’t deter Russia

Tom Rogan, 9-9, 21, https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/as-zapad-gets-underway-once-again-its-america-leading-natos-way, As ZAPAD gets underway, once again, it's America leading NATO's way

ZAPAD-2021, a major weeklong Russian military exercise, got underway on Thursday. Joined by Belarus, the exercise claims to test responses to a NATO-led military and terrorist attack on Belarus. In reality, the exercise has three other purposes. First, to improve the Russian military's ability to conduct combined arms operations at scale. Second, to deter future Western action against Belarusian dictator Alexander Lukashenko. And third, to provide propaganda for Vladimir Putin's increasingly paranoid government . NATO is monitoring the exercise, especially with regards to Russia's Northern Fleet and its nuclear ballistic missile and attack submarine forces. Russian submarine activity has escalated dramatically in both scale and capability in recent years. It is likely that U.S. (and possibly British and French) attack submarines are silently surveilling this Russian activity under the Barents Sea. But there's another takeaway from ZAPAD-21. Namely, it's proof that the United States continues to bear an outsize provision of NATO's defense. This is most obvious in terms of NATO air activity monitoring Russian forces in the Kaliningrad Oblast. According to air traffic monitoring websites, since ZAPAD-21 began, NATO surveillance flights near Kaliningrad have been dominated by U.S. military aircraft. Squished between the Baltic Sea and NATO member states Poland and Lithuania, Kaliningrad is an effective Russian military fortress. Russian aircraft from Kaliningrad regularly test NATO's air defense capabilities, sometimes successfully . But the question remains: Why aren't more NATO member states deploying their forces? NATO is one of the most successful alliances in history, providing great utility to America. NATO allies such as Britain, Norway , the Baltic states (Latvia and Lithuania currently have a number of warships on patrol in the Baltic Sea), and Poland (considering offensive resolve, also France ) help bear the burden. Yet, ZAPAD zaps our attention back to the basic point: Why aren't the Belgian, Danish, French, and German air forces operating closer and more often to Kaliningrad? Why, for that matter, isn't the Italian military operating closer to the Russians in the Mediterranean ? It is absurd that tiny Luxembourg provides an inordinate amount of the airborne warning capability over central Europe, for example. This operational lethargy wears particularly thin when it comes to Germany . Whatever the Biden administration might claim, Germany is as much an ally of Russia as it is NATO. It is more an enabler of China's genocidal imperialism than it is a beacon of European democratic values. It is a nation where the Green Party is tougher on China and Russia than either of the major center-left or center-right parties!The simple truth remains the oldest: NATO is nothing without America, and the Russians know it.

Russian invasion of the Baltics will kill millions, The Baltic countries cannot deter the Russia, increased security commitments are needed

Philip Wasielewski, 9-8, 21, retired 31-year veteran paramilitary operations officer of the Central Intelligence Agency, Small Wars Journal, RUSSIAN REAR AREA OPERATIONS AND THE RESISTANCE OPERATING CONCEPT, https://smallwarsjournal.com/jrnl/art/russian-rear-area-operations-and-resistance-operating-concept

In 2014, the politico-military face of Europe changed considerably after the Russian Anschluss of Crimea and its follow-on subversion of, and incursion into, eastern Ukraine. While some decried Russia for “acting in a 19 th -century fashion”, it became clear to many eastern and central European states, NATO members and non-members alike, that their 21 st century security challenges now could include invasion and occupation by the Russian Federation. Nowhere in NATO was this challenge felt more acutely than in the Baltic countries of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. They had regained their sovereignty after the fall of the Soviet Union, but unfortunately also regained the same geopolitical challenges to their security that they faced during their interwar existence – limited territory providing no strategic depth and a small population unable to generate conventional military forces that could deter a Kremlin hostile to their independence. In response to Russian aggression in Ukraine, NATO took specific steps to increase Baltic security. Since 2017, four multinational battlegroups totaling approximately 4,500 troops have been deployed to the Baltic states and Poland to serve as a proportionate deterrent force and to send a clear message that an attack on one would be met by troops from across the alliance. 1 NATO has improved its security posture in the Baltics through multiple deployments and exercises and by investing in infrastructure and pre-positioned forces via the European Deterrence Initiative. However, learning from its wars in Chechnya and Georgia, covert intervention in Ukraine, and deployments to Syria, Russian military combat capability has also greatly increased especially in integrating reconnaissance and electronic warfare assets with fires into a lethal whole. A 2018 RAND study estimated that, “improvements in Russia’s military forces over the last decade have reduced the once-gaping qualitative and technical gaps between Russia and NATO.” The result being that, “in the event of a ground attack on a NATO member in the Baltic region, Russia would have a substantial time-distance advantage in the days and weeks of its ground campaign because of its strong starting position and ability to reinforce with ground and air units from elsewhere in Russia.” 2 In other words, if deterrence fails, Russian forces could overrun one or all three of the Baltic states in a short time and make their recovery a long bloody enterprise. In 2014, parallel to the effort to strengthen deterrence via conventional forces, Special Operations Command Europe began working with NATO and partner special operations forces to enhance Unconventional Warfare (UW) capabilities in the region. One of the results of this partnership was the publication of the Resistance Operating Concept (ROC) in November 2019. The purpose of the ROC is to, “encourage governments to foster pre-crisis resiliency through Total Defense, a “whole-of-government” and “whole-of-society” approach, which includes interoperability among its forces and those of its allies and partners…The ROC seeks to identify resistance principles, requirements, and potential challenges that may inform doctrine, plans, capabilities, and force development.” 3 Prior to and following publication of the ROC, a series of field and table top exercises, seminars, publications, etc., have ensued to increase interoperability and capability to conduct UW in the region as a way to increase deterrence and to be prepared if deterrence fails. The ROC is a comprehensive, well thought out, and flexible publication with a wealth of knowledge from the study of past UW campaigns including one on Baltic terrain in the early Cold War. Hopefully, its tenets will never have to be put to the test in combat. Unlike incursions into Georgia and Ukraine, the crossing of any Baltic border by Russian forces would initiate NATO Article V deliberations and the most likely decision would be full-out war between the alliance and the Russian Federation. The Kremlin is manned by astute figures aware of their own history and who know that failed wars have been the end of many a Russian ruler and dynasty. It is hard to see what advantage they believe they would achieve by attacking these three nations. While Russia may enjoy the above-mentioned conventional force advantage in the Baltics, its leaders must also understand that war with NATO may not be contained to that small region, that their ability to sustain an economy under wartime conditions is limited, and that eventually an alliance of 30 countries with a combined Gross Domestic Product over 10-times that of Russia will be able to marshal enough combat power to overturn any temporary win on the Baltic battlefield. 4 But should deterrence fail, should miscalculation, emotion, and/or human error rule in the decision-making process, then the ROC may have to be put into practice. Therefore, the purpose of this article is to discuss wartime challenges a Baltic resistance may face and how this might inform which specific UW activities may be more or less likely to succeed. In other words, based on current Russian capabilities and past Soviet and Russian operations, it will try to “Red Team” likely Russian counters to UW operations. This article assumes that since war with NATO would be an existential struggle for the Kremlin leadership (who would forfeit their positions, if not their lives, if they lose), Russia would use all power necessary to win, would not be constrained by international public opinion, but would be deterred from using nuclear weapons by U.S., British, and French strategic arsenals. It also assumes that Russian forces would occupy all of the Baltic states and possibly parts of Poland to establish lines of communication with its Kaliningrad enclave. Finally, it assumes that it will take NATO several months to a year or more to generate and transport the necessary conventional forces to the region to retake the Baltics and that Russian forces will use this time wisely to consolidate their hold on the conquered territory. Russian Capabilities While Russian conventional and strategic military capabilities are well studied, less attention is paid to Russian paramilitary forces designated to counter UW activities and their Soviet predecessors who had a long history of suppressing resistance operations. Soviet doctrine had a sizeable rear area security program that emphasized security of lines of communications, coastlines, and borders; suppression of local insurgents; and defense against unconventional warfare (including saboteurs, partisans, and propaganda). These missions were mainly the province of the internal troops of the KGB and the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MVD). 5 From 1944 to the mid-1950s, Soviet paramilitary forces with local collaborators successfully destroyed every armed resistance movement they faced in countries overrun by the Red Army including Poland and all the Baltic states. Today, the suppression of UW activities in occupied territory would be led by the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) and the Russian National Guard. They would be supported by a number of entities, state and non-state, to provide a ubiquitous security presence throughout the battle zone. The FSB is the largest of Russia’s three major intelligence services and is the successor of the KGB’s Second Chief Directorate (Counterintelligence) and Fifth Chief Directorate (Ideology and Dissidents) amongst others. Its paramilitary forces include both the Border Guards (approximately 170,000 troops) and a Special Operations command consisting of the Alpha and Vympel Spetsnaz groups. It is the lead agency for counterintelligence and counterterrorism inside of Russia with extensive experience in paramilitary operations in Chechnya and the breakaway republics of Ukraine. Russia’s National Guard, or “Rosgvardia”, was created in 2016 by amalgamating MVD Internal Military troops with various police special forces and riot control units. Its reported strength is 340,000 troops. The legislation creating Rosgvardia gives it several distinct internal security tasks, which would easily transfer to wartime missions. As one analysis of Rosgvardia describes: Rosgvardia’s place in the military organization of the Russian state is defined by its territorial defense tasks – in the specific Russian meaning of territorial defense. Russia does not expect an armed attack on its own territory: territorial defense mainly means covering the rear of, and providing auxiliary services to, the Armed Forces.” 6 The FSB would provide the professional investigative and counterintelligence (to include cyber and electronic intercept) assets and direction to an anti-UW effort in occupied Baltic territory. It would be supported by Rosgvardia and a variety of other forces such as detailed MVD police units, Cossack security patrols, Chechen volunteer battalions, and private security companies (that Rosgvardia regulates) similar to or even including Wagner. Besides the conventional Russian ground and air defense forces that would occupy the Baltics, a fully mobilized rear area security effort could put up to an additional half million men in a land area of 167,000 square kilometers (just smaller than Missouri) normally populated by approximately 5.8 million people. 7 It could be a crowded Unconventional Warfare Operational Area (UWOA). Likely Russian Rear Area Operations What is likely to happen once initial combat operations end and Russian conventional and rear area security forces consolidate their positions? At a minimum, in the days, weeks, and first few months following the occupation of the Baltic states, local populations can expect the following. First, all government offices will be occupied and their records and archives seized. Special interest will be directed towards the defense and security services as well as the police, communications centers, and government administration (personnel records). Defense, intelligence, police, civil servants, and political figures will be arrested and interrogated. A key intelligence requirement will be NATO preparations to retake the Baltics including stay-behind operations. You can be assured that the FSB and Russian Military Intelligence have been following the ROC as closely as the readers of this publication. Second, public communications will cease. Mass media will not reopen until proper censorship controls are in place. Internal telephone and internet services will cease until they are connected to Russia’s targeted internet and telephone surveillance system (SORM). 8 Ham radios will be confiscated, UHF/VHF radio communications will only be allowed for government agencies (fire departments), and all radio frequencies will be monitored to include direction finding of suspect transmissions. There will be no legal international communications channels including the postal service. Finally, count on satellite systems supporting GPS and communications being gone once NATO declares war on Russia. Third, curfews will be established followed by a requirement for all citizens to report for a census and the issuance of new identity documents. These will help in population control and for identifying newcomers to an area. “Losing” these documents will bring strong sanctions and one can expect that they will be hard to counterfeit via local means. Passes may be required for intercity travel. The ruble or possibly special occupation scrip will replace national currencies. The holding of any foreign currencies will be a criminal offense. Rationing and ration cards may be introduced; less because of food shortages but more as a population control measure (i.e., to starve out resistance members in the countryside or in urban hides). Fourth, local Russian populations will be empowered (in Estonia they are 24.8% of the population, in Latvia 24.5%, and in Lithuania 5.8%) 9 and militias based on ethnic Russians will be formed to assist in keeping local order. Separate overt and clandestine informant systems will be established by the FSB. For the overt system, each apartment building, residential block, or small village will have a person appointed who is responsible to the occupation authorities for the activities of all in that structure or area. They will need to report on everything from the arrival of new persons and curfew violations to even simple remarks against the new regime. The clandestine system will consist of informants secretly recruited by FSB officers (using coercion or inducements of better conditions) to collect similar information on those around them including family members. Failure to report incidents that the FSB later learns of will lead to trouble not just for the rule breakers but also for those supposed to be vigilant and reporting on them. People will be encouraged to denounce each other for real or suspected disloyalties. Baltic citizens will remember this system or will have heard their parents talk about it. It is the Stalinist system of terror and informants that operated during the Soviet era. 10 Finally, in addition to the above, planners should also expect that before long some stay- behind assets and organizations will be penetrated or betrayed and that the FSB will recruit or coerce some members to work for them. The Russians have a long history of such operations from conducting Operation Berezino and countering Germany’s Operation Zeppelin in World War Two to subverting the post-war Polish underground movement WiN (Wolność i Niezawisłość – Freedom and Independence). Some cells may be compromised without our immediate detection as there is unfortunately a long history of duress codes either not being applied or not being believed. 11 What will be the reaction of Russian authorities to sabotage, sedition, or guerrilla warfare activities undertaken by the resistance? The ROC has an appendix on population interaction with foreign occupiers, which acknowledges the possible use of mass terror against a population and how this can affect population responses to both an occupier and a resistance movement. However, the appendix’s concluding paragraph – Context of Today’s Threat – appears to downplay the possibility of the future use of widespread terror tactics in occupied areas when it states: “Based on twenty first century mores, rapid and accurate information exchanges among most advanced nations, and various forms of international integration and inter-dependence, an occupier from among these nations is not likely to apply widespread terror in the forms analyzed in the above case studies…This is because today’s aggressive state actors are likely to use more subtle means of coercion and terror.” 12 The authors may have had in mind when writing this paragraph, the operations of Russian special forces during the illegal annexation of Crimea. However, that was a one-time and unique situation in an environment of mostly ethnic Russians unprepared, unwilling, or unable to resist that coup de main. In all other cases, this statement is inconsistent with the demonstrated behavior of Russian or Soviet forces in counter-guerrilla or internal security operations in numerous settings and over numerous decades. Russian reactions to resistance activities, kinetic and even non-kinetic, will be swift, direct, and brutal in order to destroy the resistance as quickly as possible. For example, Soviet operations in Afghanistan from 1978-1988 killed approximately two million Afghan, wounded approximately 600,000 to two million others and created six million refugees. 13 Russian operations in Chechnya, against their own citizens, in two separate wars from 1994-2003 have resulted in-between 150,00 and 200,000 civilian deaths. 14 It was in Chechnya that that the system of “filtration centers” for the detainment and interrogation of suspected terrorists was established. These camps were known for their brutalities to include electric shocks to genitals, toes, and fingers; asphyxiation with plastic bags; cutting off of ears; filling mouths with kerosene; beatings; cigarette burnings; scalding with hot water; deprivation of sleep and food, etc. 15 In another war, Human Rights Watch (HRW) reported in 2020 that, “the Syrian- Russian alliance showed callous disregard for the lives of three million civilians in the [Idlib] area…The alliance launched dozens of air and ground attacks against civilian objects and infrastructure in violation of the laws of war, striking homes, schools, healthcare facilities and markets.” 16 HRW has also documented the raids, arbitrary arrests, and torture conducted by Russian authorities against the native Tatar population in Crimea who oppose Russia’s takeover. 17 Russian private security companies working overseas are just as apt to use similarly brutal methods as reported by United Nations investigators in the Central African Republic. Their alleged violations include mass summary executions, arbitrary detention, torture during interrogation and the forced displacement of the civilian population, about 240,000 of whom have fled their homes. 18 Finally, the culture of the Russian army itself has a strong underlying base of brutality due to the culture of “Dedovshchina” where junior enlisted men are bullied and terrorized by more senior soldiers, leading to numerous cases each year of suicide and murder. The above examples were not the ugly collateral damage of war but the result of systematic brutal occupation policies designed to target populations and terrorize them into surrendering rather than winning over their “hearts and minds.” We can expect no less if war comes to the Baltics. Therefore, Russian tactics against resistance operations are likely to include:  Indiscriminate executions and taking of hostages. A bridge is blown up between two villages and in retaliation all military age males in both those villages are executed.  Food denial to starve out resistance fighters similar to the tactics of the Holodomor in Ukraine and other Soviet regions during the forced collectivization of agriculture.  Depopulation of entire populations near areas of guerrilla activity into local filtration centers or Russia itself. As Stalin once said, no person, no problem.

 

NATO securing the Baltics against hybrid warfare now

Baltic Times, 9-7, 21, https://www.baltictimes.com/nato_counter_hybrid_support_team_arrives_in_lithuania/, NATO Counter Hybrid Support Team arrives in Lithuania

VILNIUS – A NATO Counter Hybrid Support Team has come to Lithuania to help the country's authorities deal with the migrant crisis and other pressures from neighbors, the Defense Ministry said on Tuesday. For two weeks, the team of security experts "will analyze the hybrid aggression against Lithuania" and "will make recommendations to Lithuania and the Alliance on how to deal with such threats more effectively," the ministry said in a press release. "The team of experts is here at the request of the Lithuanian government to advise Lithuania on how to deal with hybrid activities," it quoted Michael Ruhle, the head of the team, as saying. "NATO continues to closely monitor the situation on the Belarus border, which is putting migratory pressure on our Allies Lithuania, Latvia and Poland," he said. The North Atlantic Council in August unanimously decided to send the team to Lithuania, following Vilnius' official request. Defense Minister Arvydas Anusauskas said that "the activation of the Counter Hybrid Support Team in Lithuania shows that the Allies are responsibly assessing Lithuania's geopolitical context and preparing for any possible incident". "The arrival of NATO Counter Hybrid Support Team is important not only in solving the problems caused by hybrid aggression – once again it was proved that we are not alone, we have allies with whom we work closely and in crisis situations we can rely on their strong support." NATO set up Counter Hybrid Support Teams in 2018 "to provide tailored assistance to Allies upon their request," according to the ministry. "The NATO-led experts can support national efforts in a variety of areas, including cyber defense, energy security, counter-terrorism, civil preparedness, or strategic communications," it said. A NATO Counter Hybrid Support Team was sent to Montenegro in 2019 at the country's request. Lithuania has been facing a migration crisis due to an unprecedented influx of irregular migrants from Belarus. Over 4,100 migrants have crossed into Lithuania from Belarus illegally so far this year, compared to just 81 in all of 2020. Vilnius accuses the Minsk regime of orchestrating the influx, calling it "hybrid aggression". Also, Russia and Belarus are holding a large-scale military exercise, Zapad 2021, near Lithuania's border.

Afghan debacle means an EU defense force is possible

Sandra Zsiros, 9-6, 21, https://www.euronews.com/2021/09/06/afghanistan-crisis-is-a-massive-defeat-for-nato-but-an-opportunity-for-eu-says-timothy-gar, Afghanistan crisis is a 'massive defeat' for NATO but an opportunity for EU, says Timothy Garton Ash

The Taliban's takeover of Afghanistan is a "massive defeat" for the NATO alliance but strengthens the case for the EU's "strategic autonomy", says award-winning historian Timothy Garton Ash. "It's a massive defeat and a terrible betrayal of all those people to whom we have said you can have a free and equal life, particularly the women and the girls. It's a terrible betrayal. It's a defeat," Garton Ash told Euronews in an interview at the House of European History in Brussels. "And the terrorists are coming back. So yes, it has to be said. And two trillion dollars down the drain. It's very hard to see the pluses from this story." For the British professor and long-time commentator of European politics, the West's frenetic exit from Afghanistan has left the door open for its main adversaries to extend their influence in the region. "The American, British, German, French embassies are closed," he said. "The Russian and Chinese embassies are still open. Need I say any more?" "Either you go in there, you get the really bad guys and you get out [back in] 2003, 2004 – or you say we're in for the long haul, as we do in other places in our near abroad. I think there's a strong case for the long haul. If we just kept five, ten thousand troops out, another generation of Afghan women might have had a much better life." But despite the geopolitical debacle and the reputation damage for NATO, Garton Ash believes the crisis opens a window of opportunity for the European Union to strengthen its cooperation and deepen its integration.

The EU can’t even operate an airport on its own, and there is not even support for an independent force of 5,000 troops

David Herzenshorn, 9-6, 21, Politico, https://www.politico.eu/article/eu-afghanistan-military-capability-defense-nato/, For EU, Afghanistan is now a four-letter word

In the days since the West’s bailout from Kabul, the 27 member countries and the EU institutions in Brussels have been confronting the humiliating reality of their collective lack of military capability and they have been grasping desperately for policy options, some of which seem wildly unrealistic or woefully insufficient. The inability to keep the Kabul airport functioning, and maintain evacuations, even for just a few days longer without help from the U.S. has led to a sobering conclusion: The European Union can neither protect, nor project, its so-called “European way of life.” For the 21 EU countries that are also members of NATO, the willingness to simply go along with U.S. decisions about Afghanistan, including former President Donald Trump’s so-called “peace deal” with the Taliban — in some cases despite strong misgivings — has now led to painful questions about whether other allies can even think, let alone fight, independently of Washington. Of course, the EU’s lack of hard-power capability is nothing new, but it is also just one component of the Afghanistan debacle.

Even if there is a new European force, it will only be a few thousand troops and there won’t even be a new version of the proposal until 2022

Joshua Posner, 9-5, 21, https://www.politico.eu/article/jens-stoltenberg-nato-eu-defense-plans-warning/, EU defense plans ‘can never replace’ NATO, says Stoltenberg

Calls for a new European military force following the withdrawal from Afghanistan must not undermine NATO’s command structures or divert resources from the alliance, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg cautioned in an interview published Sunday. “Any attempt to establish parallel structures, duplicate the command structure, that will weaken our joint capability to work together, because with scarce resources we need to prevent duplication and overlapping efforts,” Stoltenberg told the Telegraph.The EU is set to propose a strategy document later this year that will address a proposal for a rapid entry force of several thousand troops. Calls for an autonomous European military capability have mounted in recent weeks after the U.S. decision to pull out from Afghanistan led to the Taliban regaining control of the county. Stoltenberg said “specific proposals” on a such a European force have not been discussed in NATO and he has “not seen any details. “I welcome more European efforts on defence but that can never replace NATO and we need to make sure that Europe and North America band together,” Stoltenberg told the paper. “Any attempt to weaken the bond between North America and Europe will not only weaken NATO, it will divide Europe.” The goal is to have a first draft of the EU defense plan by November and to unveil the final version at the start of 2022

EU developing its own military force

Matt Clinch, 9-4, 21, Afghanistan pullout sparks EU calls for more military might, Afghanistan pullout sparks EU calls for more military might, https://www.cnbc.com/2021/09/04/commissioner-gentiloni-on-eu-army-after-afghanistan-conclusion.html

Paolo Gentiloni, the EU’s commissioner for economics and taxation, has spoken to CNBC about a need for the bloc to develop on the geopolitical stage as the U.S. and other Western allies take a step back. “We are an economic superpower but we cannot be completely absent in the geopolitical role,” he told CNBC’s Steve Sedgwick at the European House Ambrosetti Forum on Saturday. Gentiloni namechecked what he called a “terrible” conclusion to the war in Afghanistan in recent weeks as one example of the U.S. and others reducing their commitments on the global stage. His comments add another voice to the argument that the EU should develop a common defense policy, which many see as a forerunner to a full EU army. “I think we can coexist very well,” Gentiloni said when asked whether this would be a threat to NATO, whose members include some EU nations. Undermining NATO is seen as one key reason why the EU has not established its own army, as well as the different levels of defense spending within the bloc. Critics are also wary of further integration within the EU. “NATO was born and shaped mainly to deter Russia’s presence in Europe, these roles remain absolutely crucial. And I am personally also a strong supporter of NATO,” Gentiloni said. “What I’m saying is that if the European Union role is growing, if we will have a good economic recovery, if we are trying to be on the lead on the climate transition, and many other aspects of our ambition, we cannot be completely irrelevant and silent on these geopolitical dynamics.” EU foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, went one step further this week, telling reporters in Slovenia that the the bloc should create a “first entry force” of 5,000 troops to reduce its dependence on the U.S. Two EU battlegroups of 1,500 troops were established back in 2007, but they have never been deployed. “Sometimes there are events that catalyze history, that create a breakthrough, and I think that Afghanistan is one of these cases,” Borrell said, according to Reuters. Chinese antagonism When asked about Chinese antagonism and whether the EU would look to face down the Asian superpower as one bloc in the future, Gentiloni said that this could ultimately benefit the U.S. “There is an economic cooperation [with China], trade cooperation, but we are different systems. It is inevitable that the model of a different capitalism, capitalism that is not connected with democracy, with liberty, is an alternative to the European model,” he said. WATCH NOW VIDEO04:14 ‘There is a need for a new geopolitical approach for Europe’: Le Maire “And so forcefully we will be partners with [the] U.S. in this kind of confrontation, but [it’s] also in the U.S. interest if this European partner is also geopolitically stronger and [has] more influence ... We always describe Europe as a quiet superpower, Venus and Mars. OK, [the] time is now to give also Venus some geopolitical power.” Speaking at the same event, France’s Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire agreed that this development of a common defense policy could constitute a new position for Europe. “There is a need for a new geopolitical approach for Europe,” Le Maire told CNBC at a press conference. He added that the EU now needs to become a third geopolitical superpower alongside China and the United States. “This is a my deepest political conviction ... let’s open our eyes, we are facing political threats,” he said. “We cannot rely any more only on the protection of the United States. This is obvious, so we need to be our own protection.”

No encirclement non-unique: Biden summit did not increase ties

Mark Episkopos, 9-4, 21, Zelensky Walked Away From His Washington Meeting Nearly Empty Handed, https://nationalinterest.org/feature/zelensky-walked-away-his-washington-meeting-nearly-empty-handed-193212

Washington and Kiev released a joint statement averring that the two sides “continue to oppose Nord Stream 2, which we [the U.S. and Ukraine] view as a threat to European energy security,” but—as of late August 2021—the pipeline is virtually complete and on the cusp being launched. At this stage, Washington’s opposition to the project appears more symbolic than practical. The Biden administration itself conceded in May 2021 with its decision to waive sanctions on the company overseeing construction of the project that there is little Washington can do to stop the pipeline. “The U.S. and Ukrainian governments support efforts to increase capacity for gas supplies to Ukraine from diversified sources,” the statement continued. This, too, reads more like a statement of preference than a declaration of concrete policy intent. The summit, then, was an exercise in the same desiccated talking points and vain assurances that have governed U.S.-Ukraine relations since the 2014 Euromaidan Revolution. The two leaders hailed the global cause of democracy, an increasingly hollow exaltation in light of Zelensky’s own authoritarian turn at home. They called for an end to the Donbas War, but the Minsk agreements are no closer to being implemented on eve of their seventh anniversary than on the day that they were signed. Despite Zelensky’s cryptic messaging, vigorous opposition from Russia all but nullifies prospects for a viable alternative format to Minsk. The Biden administration is understandably unwilling to accept Ukraine into NATO given the immense geopolitical risks involved, but lacks the political will to say so outright and thus continues to drag out the issue under the pretense of opaque domestic reform requirements. Not unlike past state-level interactions between Ukrainian and U.S. officials, the Zelensky-Biden summit lacked what the bilateral relationship needs now more than ever: policy substance and strategic clarity. 

Status quo deters Russia; while Russia could take the Baltics they are deterred by escalation

Farley, 9-3, 21, Robert Farley, a frequent contributor to the National Interest, is author of The Battleship Book. He serves as a Senior Lecturer at the Patterson School of Diplomacy and International Commerce at the University of Kentucky, Could Russia Defeat NATO in Baltics?

Here's What You Need to Remember: The RAND wargame suggests that Russia could take the Baltics, and perhaps hold them, for a while. Moscow would begin to pay costs very early in any conflict, however, as NATO forces moved against Kaliningrad, Transnistria and other Russian holdings. A recent RAND wargame on a potential Russian offensive into the Baltics brought talk of a “new Cold War” into sharp focus. The game made clear that NATO would struggle to prevent Russian forces from occupying the Baltics if it relied on the conventional forces now available These wargames have great value in demonstrating tactical and operational reality, which then informs broader strategic thinking. In this case, however, the headlines generated by the game have obscured more about the NATO-Russian relationship than they have revealed. In short, the NATO deterrent promise has never revolved around a commitment to defeat Soviet/Russian forces on NATO’s borders. Instead, NATO has backed its political commitment with the threat to broaden any conflict beyond the war that the Soviets wanted to fight. Today, as in 1949, NATO offers deterrence through the promise of escalation. Let’s be utterly clear on this point; from the creation of NATO until the 1970s, Western military planners expected the Warsaw Pact to easily win a conventional war in Europe. Conventional warfighting plans by the major NATO powers often amounted, almost literally, to efforts to reach the English Channel just ahead of the tanks of the Red Army. NATO expected to liberally use tactical nuclear weapons to slow the Soviet advance, an action which would inevitably invite Soviet response (the Soviets also prepared for this dynamic) The belief that NATO would lose a conventional conflict did nothing to contradict the notion that NATO could play a valuable role in deterring war. For one, NATO could certainly make things more difficult for the Soviet Union; overwhelming combined British-German-American forces would prove far more costly than defeating a West Germany that stood alone. Moreover, by triggering an expansion of the war NATO could create costs for the Soviets in other parts of the world. Overwhelming NATO superiority at sea and in long-range airpower would prove devastating for Soviet interests outside of Eurasia, even if the Soviets prevailed on the Central Front Most importantly, the threat that France, Britain and the United States would launch strategic nuclear strikes on the Soviet Union in response to a successful conventional assault was supposed to give Moscow pause. Even if an American President refused to exchange Berlin for New York, the Soviets would have to worry about the rest of NATO’s nuclear deterrent. The expectation that NATO could defeat the Warsaw Pact in battle only emerged after the Yom Kippur War. In that conflict, precision-guided conventional munitions exacted such a toll on advancing forces (both in the Golan and in Sinai) that American military planners began to believe that they could stop a Soviet attack. Drawn up in defensive positions that would channel oncoming Red Army armor into large kill zones, NATO forces could sufficiently blunt and disrupt a Soviet advance, and prevent the collapse of positions within Germany. The defense would buy time for NATO to transit additional forces and equipment from the United States to Europe, to carry out in depth attacks against Warsaw Pact logistical and communications centers in Eastern Europe, and to attack Soviet interests in the rest of the world. After 1982, AirLand Battle would return maneuver to the battlefield, as American commanders grew more confident of their ability to defeat the Red Army in a fluid engagement. Cooperation between the Army and the Air Force would allow attacks all along the depth of the Soviet position, turning the formidable Red Army (and its Eastern European allies) into a chaotic mess. At the same time, the U.S. Navy prepared to attack directly into the Soviet periphery with airstrikes and amphibious assaults, as well as into the cherished “bastions” of the Soviet boomer fleet. None of this depended on the protection of any given piece of NATO territory; planners accepted that the Soviets could make at least some gains at the beginning of any plausible war scenario. In this context, news that Russia could win a localized conventional conflict against small NATO nations on its border becomes rather less alarming than it sounds at first blush. Apart from (perhaps) a brief window of vulnerability in the 1990s, Russia has always had the capacity to threaten NATO with conventional force. Indeed, NATO did not even begin to plan for the conventional defense of the Baltics until well after their accession, on the belief that the faith and credit of the alliance, and in particular its ability to retaliate against Soviet interests in the rest of Europe, would prove a sufficient deterrent The RAND wargame suggests that Russia could take the Baltics, and perhaps hold them, for a while. Moscow would begin to pay costs very early in any conflict, however, as NATO forces moved against Kaliningrad, Transnistria and other Russian holdings. The Russian Navy would likely come under severe attack from NATO submarines and aircraft. Long range strikes would debilitate much of the rest of Russia’s air force and air defense network. In short, Russia could grab the Baltics, but only at a cost vastly in excess of the value of holding onto them. This is how NATO conducted deterrence in 1949, and it’s how NATO does deterrence today.

Baltic states won’t support an independent European army. it will never happen, executive leadership is not possible, and all of their cards are just hot air

 

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