Russia Could Invade the Baltics with 845,000 Troops (But What Happens Next?)

    Michael Peck

    Security, Europe

    Should Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania go to war, their civilian populations will play a large part in the struggle, according to two RAND Corporation researchers.

    Despite popular resistance, an authoritarian nation like Russia might simply choose to absorb the costs of occupying all or parts of the Baltic states. Russia’s hybrid-warfare strategy, using a low-cost mixture of local irregulars backed by special forces and some regular troops, would be a relatively low cost way of seizing Baltic territory. In the end, no clever strategy can change the fact that Russia is big and the Baltic states are small. Nonetheless, as in any situation where there is bullying, simply declaring your readiness to stand up to a bigger aggressor just might deter attack—or at least not leave you feeling so helpless.

    The Baltic states have a plan to defend themselves against Russian invasion: mobilize their societies for the struggle.

    Should Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania go to war, their civilian populations will play a large part in the struggle, according to two RAND Corporation researchers. However, it’s not by choice.

    “As small countries with little strategic depth and limited human and economic resources, they are increasingly adopting a ‘total defense’ approach to national security, which includes enabling civilians to be able to protect themselves and to also support their nation’s professional armed forces in case of a conflict,” write Marta Kepe and Jan Osburg in Small Wars Journal.

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