With intentions to station new atomic weapons and 20 new nuclear bombs in Germany, how close is the U.S. to doing the same in the Baltics?
The U.S. has recently deployed a number of its nuclear-capable A-10 ground attack warplanes in Estonia, one of the Baltic states, not far away from the border with Russia.
The A-10 warplanes arrived at the Ämari Air Base amid deployment drills as part of NATO’s Operation Atlantic Resolve on September 22.
Estonia has repeatedly offered NATO to use the Ämari Air Base as a facility for NATO’s Baltic Air Policing patrols.
Earlier this month, a number of Lockheed Martin F-22 Raptor fighters were deployed at Ämari.
In June, Russian Foreign Ministry issues a warning that stationing U.S. nuclear weapons in Europe could lead to “dangerous consequences.”
How probable is Russian invasion in the Baltics?
With reports that the Pentagon is preparing for a potential war with Russia in the Baltics by revising its contingency plans for the first time since the collapse of the USSR, there are growing concerns over a possible military escalation of the tensions between Washington and Moscow.
Although it does not mean that the U.S. Defense Department considers a war against Russia in the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania as something imminent, but war strategist in Washington are clearly concerned over Russian growing aggression in the region.
Estonia and Latvia are of particular concern to become the next Crimean scenario candidates for Russian aggression, since they have 25 and 27 percent of the Russian minority population respectively. What’s also alarming is the number of cross-border incidents between these states and Russia in recent months.
However, the U.S. is not prepared for a sustained war against Russia nor is NATO prepared to defend the Baltic states, according to a number of secret military drills, the results of which were published in August.
Ever since Russia invaded Ukraine in March 2014, the Baltics started taking measures to beef up their security. However, there is a number of risks that prevent Russia from following the Crimean scenario in the Baltics.
First of all, unlike Ukraine, the Baltic states have well-organized state and security agencies that keep an eye on Russia’s every move in the region.
Second of all, compared to Crimea, which has over 60 percent of Russians, the Baltic states are more capable of resisting the Russian propaganda machine and any form of hybrid conflict.
Third of all, NATO’s Article 5, which obliges all Alliance’s member states to defend an ally in case of foreign invasion, provides the Baltics with the reassurance that they are not alone.
Russia vs. NATO: deadly war scenarios
While a direct invasion of the Baltics is not something probable, NATO war strategists should not dismiss a possible indirect invasion. Russia could invade the Baltics as retaliation for a possible military encounter between a NATO and Russian jet in the Baltics airspace.
But what’s even more probable with Russia’s increasing military presence in Syria, the Kremlin could see invasion of the Baltics as a justifiable response to a possible military confrontation between U.S. and Russian forces in Syria.
And with Russia’s plans to open a new airbase in Belarus as a response to NATO’s opening of new facilities in Poland and the Baltics, the tensions between NATO and Russia are heating up, thus making all kinds of deadly scenarios in the region possible.
In August, a report published by the European Leadership Network think tank concluded that Russia is getting ready for a war against the United States and its NATO allies.
The analysts of the think tank conducted an analysis of large-scale military drills that took place in March by Russia as well as smaller military drills carried out by NATO in June.
Both Russia and NATO were carrying out the exercises with the other side’s military capabilities and war plans in mind.
The analysts found that 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.”
Meanwhile, the Pentagon is revising its plans to respond to any potential aggression against any NATO ally by outlining U.S. actions, as a NATO member, in case Russia attacks one of NATO’s members, as well as describing U.S. plans for war against Russia outside the Alliance.
Russia and Estonia exchange spies
Russia has freed an Estonian officer sentenced to 15 years in a Russian jailed, exchanging him for a Russian spy amid President Vladimir Putin’s visit to the U.S.
Eston Kohver, who had been jailed to 15 years in August for spying and other charges, was exchanged for Aleksei Dressen, a former Estonian security official caught spying for the Kremlin in 2012.
The exchange took place on Saturday on a bridge that separates Estonia’s Polva county and Russia’s western Pskov region. After the exchange, Kohver was taken to Tallinn to make a statement.
Dressen, who was serving a 16-year sentence for spying, was convicted in 2012 along with his wife Victoria, who was given a suspended sentence. Dressen was accused of treason for leaking classified data to Moscow for years after Estonia had became independent in 1991.
Mark Feygin, Kohver’s defense lawyer, said the Kremlin agreed to free his client to create a good image for Putin before his speech at the United Nations on Monday.
“It’s all happening before Putin’s visit to the UN tomorrow. There are no other reasons,” Feygin said in his Twitter account.
Putin arrived in New York to speak before the U.N. General Assembly for the first time in a decade. The Russian President is expected to meet U.S. President Barack Obama for the first time in nearly a year on Monday