Pentagon’s decision to deploy F-22 fighter aircraft to Europe for the first time in history is supposed to make the Baltic states less vulnerable against Russian aggression.
However, many experts note that vulnerability to military invasion or aggression depends on the level of political consensus in the government of a particular country rather than its military might.
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Therefore, Pentagon’s deployment of F-22 fighter aircraft to the Baltic states would mean nothing if the quality of governance in Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania is low. But the Pentagon explained that the deployment of F-22 fighter aircraft is ‘designed to send a message to Russia’.
In Estonia and Latvia, Russian-speaking minorities account for about one-quarter of the population, and over 6 percent in Lithuania. Not long ago, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that all those people deserve his ‘protection’.
Such comments by Putin triggered a wave of fear in the Baltic states, which is why the three countries have been seeking NATO’s security assurances. And NATO couldn’t think of anything better than to respond with war games.
However, it’s not surprising since military drills is the way NATO and Moscow communicate today. In August, ValueWalk reported that analysts at the European Leadership Network think tank analyzed Russia’s large-scale military exercises that took place in March as well as NATO’s smaller military drills in June.
Russia prepares for a war against the West
The analysis concluded that both sides were holding the drills with the other side’s military capabilities and war plans in mind. However, the “nature and scale” of the drills showed that “Russia is actively preparing for a conflict with NATO, and NATO is preparing for a possible confrontation with Russia.”
Both sides have been engaged in rather provocative military drills ever since the beginning of tensions between the West and Russia, with some exercises reaching tens of thousands of troops.
Many military experts agree that such provocative military drills can trigger an all-out war, while the scale at which both sides show off their military might is completely useless.
As history shows, the main factor that prompts aggressors to invade countries is not military vulnerability, but rather political vulnerability. Examples can be drawn from unilateral interventions in Afghanistan, Iraq, Serbia, Bosnia, Libya; Russia’s invasion in Georgia in 2008 and Ukraine in 2014; Saudi Arabia’s invasion in Yemen and many other examples.
All the invaded states in the above-mentioned examples were going through crisis at the time of invasion. Therefore, it’s not about defense vulnerability, it’s rather about political instability that prompts aggressors to attack and feel the blood of their victim.
NATO’s military drills are useless against Putin
It must be pointed out that the vulnerability of the Baltic states that every NATO official is warning about is being drastically overblown, while NATO’s military drills do not prove themselves useful.
The only thing that prevents Vladimir Putin from invading the Baltics is the fact that the three countries have political stability and consensus in the society. Each Baltic state – Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia – have an understanding of what are their strong sides, and it keeps Putin’s troops away from the Baltics’ borders.
However, NATO believes that the only thing that keeps Putin away from the Baltics is the Alliance’s regular military drills in these countries. But it’s actually the Baltics themselves who ‘defend’ their borders by caring about their Russian-speaking minorities to keep them comfortable within the Baltics and not go into the streets demanding Mr. Putin to ‘help’ them.
And even though there are Russian-speaking people, including some politicians, who express their resentment every once in a while (such people are called ‘Putin’s agents’ in the Baltics), the three governments have been effectively improving the level of life of their populations. The same thing can’t be said about Putin and his population, the level of life of which has been actively decreasing ever since the Ukrainian crisis erupted.
Therefore, it must be concluded that it’s reasonable and effective political efforts in the Baltic states rather than military drills and threats against Russia that defend the countries from Russia’s aggression.
NATO vs. Russia war could begin ‘today or tomorrow’
The Baltics can be seized by Russia pretty quick, but only if the countries are invaded right now with all Russian forces currently stationed at the borders with the three countries, according to Russian independent political expert Pavel Felgenhauer.
However, the expert notes that such a scenario is unlikely as Russia’s hands are tight in Ukraine, so Putin has no ‘opportunity’ for invading other countries. Speaking in an interview with Lithuania’s Delfi, Felgenhauer noted that the only case that could bring war into the region is if there is already a ‘heated’ military conflict around the Baltics.
The expert noted that a military confrontation between the U.S. and Russia could begin ‘today or tomorrow’ as a result of encounter between warplanes over the Baltics or the North Sea during military drills.
And officials in Brussels know about such a threat, the expert noted. Russian warplanes are flying across the same lanes as they did during the Cold War, while the chance of warplanes’ encounter has increased and could lead to a very ‘serious’ conflict, Felgenhauer said.
NATO vs. Russia war with nuclear weapons
For example, Western counties could try to set up non-flying zone for Russian aircraft. The Russians would keep violating it, which would ultimately lead to an aerial conflict, the expert noted. The intensity of conflicts will gradually increase and then spread to the sea. This kind of escalation could thus end with a conflict with the use of nuclear weapons, Felgenhauer warned.
The expert said that if people fear a nuclear war, they must go as far as possible from Europe, to countries such as New Zealand. The chances to survive are high there, Felgenhauer noted.
The expert concluded the interview by saying the remaining part of the century would not be peaceful.