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"Can Russia easily take the Baltics?" Topic

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Tango0112 Mar 2018 3:36 p.m. PST

""I don't agree with that," Scaparrotti responded. "When you look at NATO writ large, it has the strength of 29 nations. The effort that's being made in NATO and that's being made here in the United States is to increase our capability to deter and, if necessary, defend."

Scaparrotti was referring to a collective effort by alliance members in recent years to shore up support to countries that feel most threatened by the prospect of a Russian invasion. Those fears have run high since Moscow annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014 in an unprecedented paramilitary-style operation whose overall objectives became clear only as Russian forces had gained a seemingly irreversible momentum.

Rand's work over the past several years has been fueled by similar concerns, namely that Russia could use its conventional weaponry to rapidly invade key territory in the Baltics and then dictate from there how the situation would develop…"
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Personal logo Cacique Caribe Supporting Member of TMP12 Mar 2018 5:47 p.m. PST

Without NATO they would be swallowed up in no time.


28mm Fanatik12 Mar 2018 9:41 p.m. PST

The conventional wisdom is that Russia can easily take the Baltics, but it won't be able to hold it for long once Nato responds.

USAFpilot12 Mar 2018 10:31 p.m. PST

Well we now know that Russia can take Crimea. But attacking a NATO country just might result in WWIII; in which case everybody loses.

Begemot13 Mar 2018 12:08 a.m. PST

The Baltic countries, Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia have been effectively independent since 1991. They became members of NATO on 29 March 2004. That is 16 years of independence as non-NATO members. How many times during these 16 years were these countries 'swallowed up' by Russia? If they weren't swallowed up why not, if the Russians are panting to do so?

Tgunner13 Mar 2018 2:23 a.m. PST

That was then Begemot. Russia of 2018 is a very different place than the one of say 2004. NATO is probably the only thing that has kept Russia from pulling a Georgia or Ukraine on them

Barin113 Mar 2018 3:28 a.m. PST

It is not that easy, Tgunner. Russia absorbed these 2 former autonomous republics of Georgia bcs. they both had a bloody modern history with Georgia. For them Russia was a better option as they were not a part of Georgia for many years in 2008, and August war started when Georgia shelled Ossetia capital.
Crimea was pro-Russian too. Baltic states are not. They have some regions were the Russians are majority, but overall you can't make a story that they want Russia back.
As for the Ukraine, first, there's little love between main Ukraine and Russia now, and they have too many problems to be of value for occupation. It may also be a bloody affair as in Donetsk/Lugansk – therefore it is not going to happen unless new iron curtain falls. Then everything is possible, but I hope the world will not come to this.

SBminisguy13 Mar 2018 9:22 a.m. PST

For them Russia was a better option as they were not a part of Georgia for many years in 2008, and August war started when Georgia shelled Ossetia capital.

You mean…Russia "recognized" a break-away province during a civil war in Georgia. Then Russia gave people in Ossetia Russian passports to make them "Russians," and when Georgia moved to retake Ossetia, Russia played the "we must aid our ethnic Russian brothers" card and invaded Georgia, carving off both Ossetia and Abkhazia, pushing deep into Georgia and pounding that poor, small nation with its airforce; then Russia occupied the center of Georgia for months, effectively cutting the capital of the country off from access to the country's sole seaport to ensure Georgia got the message that Russia had its hands locked around the teeny fragile Georgian economy -- before withdrawing out of most of Georgia, except for a few extra bits it kept.

Then Russia grabbed Crimea from Ukraine to help its ethic Russian brothers…then fomented a civil war in Ukraine and grabbed the industrial heart of the country, the Donbas region, under the same pretext of helping its ethnic Russian brothers.

So the Baltic states should be nervous when Russian politicians talk about ensuring the safety of their ethnic Russian brothers, and NATO should take it seriously -- because like many bullies, if they think they can get away with it, they will try to do something. It's also so ironic that Russian politicians have spouted the same type ethnic chauvanism the Nazis used to justify starting WW2 – invading Austria, Czechoslovakia and Poland to protect its German ethnic brothers.

Btw, China has been doing the same kind of thing in the last few years, talking about the need for ethnic Chinese in countries across Asia to be protected by the Motherland…

28mm Fanatik13 Mar 2018 10:24 a.m. PST

The unipolar world order of the 1990's (and much of the first decade of the 21st century) which resulted from the collapse of the Soviet Union is over. Both Russia and China are or consider themselves to be regional powers with their own ambitions and aims for spheres-of-influence well beyond their borders, what Russia calls its "Near Abroad" and China calls the "New Silk Road."

Russia has shown that it is willing to use both "soft power" and limited (hybrid) warfare to achieve its goals. Putin is an opportunist and strategist who's well aware of his limits and has not shown a tendency to overreach thus far.

Capitalist China has mostly exercised soft power and avoided direct military conflict. Its military is formidable on paper but is largely untested. It would be interesting to see how China's ability to project power fares if it's called upon to "protect its citizens" overseas.

I may have already seen an example of this in a recent movie called 'Operation Red Sea' in which a Chinese special ops team (its version of Navy SEALs) undertake a mission to rescue Chinese embassy officials in Yemen (what the movie called "Yewaire") which went fubar in no time. Good movie by the way, very intense and brutal (not to mention gory). More reminiscent of '80s action movies ('Rambo,' 'Delta Force') and 'Black Hawk Down' than the recent spate of post-9/11 movies like '13 Hours' and '12 Strong' which I got bored of. There's even an exciting running tank battle between a T-90 and pursuing M60's in the movie.

Barin113 Mar 2018 11:09 a.m. PST

SBminisguy, I alsmost shed a tear on the fate of poor innocent Georgia… however some of you statements are wrong, and some are just showing one side of things…as typical in modern media.

I'll just give you an example…this CNN timeline:
and the report prepared for US congress:
PDF link
CNN prefers to omit all facts pointing on Georgian attacks on Ossetia and Abkhazia in 90s, doesn't mention indiscriminative missile attack on Tskhinvali, avoids mentioning that this attack was also aimed at Russian peacekeepers, etc, etc. Still…it mentions that Russian troops were withdrawn from Georgia on 22 of August. I'd say in normal world it is 2 weeks, and not "months".
And funny thing, if you try a link on EU commission report on the conflict from CNN article you're getting some crap, not related to anything…
This report might be one of the best I've seen in English:
PDF link
By no means it is pro-Russian, but it provides a broader picture of the events.

SBminisguy13 Mar 2018 2:23 p.m. PST

Barin1, Georgia was in a civil war that was in part fueled by Russian intervention. When the USSR imploded, what used to be the Georgian Soviet Socialist Republic became the independent Republic of Georgia.

So that's December 1991 into 1992, yes? There was no nation of Abkkazia, nor Ossetia at that time. The new Republic of Georgia included multiple states/provinces, two of which were Abkhazia and Ossetia.

When many people in those provinces wanted to break free, should Georgia have let them? Probably would have been better off, but Georgia broke into a long simmering Civil War between the new government and factions in those two provinces. Perhaps Georgia looked to Russia for an example of how to deal with that…Chechnya, anyone?

Anyways, Russia helped stir the pot but then it saw an opportunity to dish out some payback to a former provincial possession and send a message to others about Russia's sphere of influence.

1. Georgia had pissed it off by daring to send a jumped-up infantry company to go help the US take out Russia's main client in Iraq, Saddam Hussein. The loss of Iraq was a huge political loss for Russia…not happy about that, eh?

2. NATO was making noises about expanding membership to Georgia, well that pissed off Russia as well.

3. There was a growing alliance between Ukraine and Georgia -- definitely wanted to prevent alliance that from growing.

The phrase "Kill the chicken to scare the monkey" applies here.

So your links are interesting but only deal with the immediate actions of the very brief war, but according to this US Army study, Russia spent some 2 1/2 years preparing to stomp Georgia.

It laid the groundwork by supporting the separatists, then gave them Russian passports. Then they put "peacekeepers" into Georgia to protect these newly-made Russians, then Russia ramped up the violence, escalating things to culminate in conflict. Georgia jumped the mark a bit, but the Russians had prepared well and had 3-4 times as many troop ready than Georgia had in its entire army. The result was not in question, and Russia essentially annexed Abkhazia and Ossetia.

In South Ossetia, Russia committed the 58th
Army, based in the Russian city of Vladikavkaz and
consisting of the 19th and 42nd Motorized Rifle Divisions;
the 76th Air Assault Division, airlifted to theater
from the Russian city of Pskov in the St. Petersburg
Military District; and the 98th Airborne Division, to
include elements of the 45th Intelligence Regiment,
airlifted from their bases near Moscow. A battalion of
the 33rd Special Mountain Brigade, a newly formed
unit trained and equipped to operate in the challenging
terrain of the Caucasus region, was also reportedly
deployed to South Ossetia….

…Russia had opened a second front in Abkhazia by deploying units from the 7th Airborne and 76th Air Assault Divisions,
the 20th Motorized Rifle Division, and two battalions
of Naval Infantry from the Black Sea Fleet.

In contrast, Georgia's army consisted of some 10,000-12,000 troops.

It was a planned, deliberate and very successful Russian campaign, the basic model of which it repeated in Crimea and Eastern Ukraine.

PDF link

Barin114 Mar 2018 12:08 a.m. PST

Disclaimer: this is not aimed at you, but it is aimed on the way we're fed with imformation and what we're doing for the fact finding.
I've provided "interesting links" and they have a lot of other info in references. Still, it doesn't fit in the concept you have. So…
you're saying that Georgia "looked to Russia for an example of how to deal with that…Chechnya, anyone?" even that a 30 second google check will show to you that first war in Checnya took place in 1994, and, we both confirmed, Georgia attacked breakaway republics in 1991. However I'll not be saying that may be Russia decided to follow example of Georgia, as it will be a typical fact bending.

The links actually deal with the period from 1918, so it is definitely NOT about 14 days of war.

Now a bit of facts check of Georgian troops in Iraq. In january, 2004, half a year after GWB declared the war in Iraq accomplished, there were 70 Georgian troops there, out of them 34 were combat specialsist. To say that these guys made a noticeable influence on deposing Hussein who, btw, was not our client for quite a number of years before the 2d Gulf War, would be a big stretch. You know, Fiji, Dominikana and Thailand also send the troops there, but they're safe from the attacks of evil Russia.

Now, was Russia prepared for this attack? Yes, it was. May be not that prepared, as a lot of later works and large scale reforms have shown. But you know…paratroopers are living to be redeployed fast on enemy territory. Why it is a surprise that they've acted within a day or two after attack?
And you know, most of the drill legends from 1939 were about repelling agressor and bringing war to its territory. 4 times I had it in my life, it was all the same. No surprise here again.
What is surprising, that with all military intelligence US and Georgia had, the decision for the attack was still made. Why Cyprus is not trying to retake its Northern part? Why minorities in Kosovo are not trying to carve the state for themsleves? Why South Korea doesn't see a military solution to Korean peninsula? Bcs they understand the consequences and weight the chances.
And it seems the assumption of the attack in August, 2008 was all too wrong. If you go with a knife into a gunfight, you'll have a problem.


SBminisguy14 Mar 2018 8:12 a.m. PST

1. "Georgia attacked breakaway republics in 1991.'

There were no "break away republics" in 1991. There were factions in two Georgian provinces who declared independence from the new Republic of Georgia. So should Georgia have held a referendum in those two provinces? Probably, but it didn't, so from a legal standpoint Georgia was dealing with an internal separatist problem akin to the Basques in Spain, the Chechens in Russia, etc.

2. " So…
you're saying that Georgia "looked to Russia for an example of how to deal with that…Chechnya, anyone?" even that a 30 second google check will show to you that first war in Checnya took place in 1994, and, we both confirmed,"

When faced with province that wanted to go independent, Russia cratered the place! Russia moved in heavy forces and indiscriminately shelled and bombed Grozny into a WW2-esque moonscape, so Russia has no moral basis on which to criticize or intervene in anybody else's affairs.

3. "To say that these guys made a noticeable influence on deposing Hussein who, btw, was not our client for quite a number of years before the 2d Gulf War, would be a big stretch"

I didn't say they had any real effect, but its among the reasons why Russia was pissed at Georgia.

4. "Now, was Russia prepared for this attack? Yes, it was."

Yep, dang right it was since Russia had engineered the situation to give it the pretext to annex bits of Georgia, and then prepared by moving overwhelming forces into the area.

1. There was no "South Ossetia" little cute bear to be kicked by mean rascally Georgian until Russia "recognized" its independence.

2. There were no Russians in South Ossetia who needed help from Russia until Russia started giving out Russian passports to people living in South Ossetia.

3. The South Ossetians had no military nor ability to really campaign against Georgia until Russia gave them weapons.

4. There would have been no war unless Russia hadn't ramped up the pace of operations, moved troops into the area and put "Peacekeepers" into South Ossetia.

Nations act in their own interests, and all nations have acted like ba**tards across history, even the one I love, the US, has done that. Russia acted in its interests, it did a raw in your face old fashioned power move to "kill the chicken to scare the monkey."

1. It stopped NATO expansion into Georgia

2. It stalled the growing alliance between Ukraine and Georgia

3. It sent a message to others that it was the Big Bear in its backyard

4. It got payback on a small uppity former province, and put fear into others.

5. It witnessed NATO/US resolve in this case -- lots of mouthing off and complaining but no real action.

6. Because of the benefits of the above, it felt it could try the same model again and get away with it -- so it did the *exact* same thing in Crimea to secure its former Black Sea naval base, and then again in the Donbas to cripple Ukraine and grab some nice industrial/economic areas.

Reminds me, since this is a gaming forum, of this humorous video:

YouTube link

Barin114 Mar 2018 11:05 a.m. PST

Ok, my last post in the thread. I still recommend facts check, but I can't force you.
May be a couple of new discoveries for you.

Russian peace keepers in South Ossetia were a part of 4 sides peacekeeping force and they were there bcs of the agreement, signed by Russia and Georgia in 1992. It specified the number of Russian troops as 530, and Georgians as 300. These were the only "foreign" troops in South Osetia at the moment when the conflict started.

I hope you don't think that Radio Liberty is pro-Russian?

In Syria, only the idea that pro-government forces MIGHT THREATEN american trainers, brought overwhelming responce with all weaponry available. In Tskhinvali it was direct shelling and attack on Russian peacekeepers.

Now, about recognition of independence…if you read the report for Congress, on p.9 you may find that Russia recognized the independence of Abkhazia and Southern Osetia on 25 of August, so, again, 2 weeks after Georgian attack. Therefore, cute little Osetian bear was attacked before, right?

Still, I generally agree to what you've summarized as a result of the conflict – apart of Georgia/Ukraine thing. Some of Russian planes were downed by Buks, supplied from Ukraine. Some of the members of current Ukrainian government were boasting that they have provided plenty of weapons and other support to Georgia before and during the conflict. Interesting, that these supplies were made during Yanukovich ruling. I guess money makes the world go round…

SBminisguy14 Mar 2018 12:32 p.m. PST

Russia recognized the independence of Abkhazia and Southern Osetia on 25 of August, so, again, 2 weeks after Georgian attack.

Yes, but what gave Russia the right to do so at all? And what gave Russia the right to give Russian passports to people in Ossetia?

What if, I don't know, ethnic Finns in Pechenga near Murmask (formerly part of the Finnish province of Petsalmo, taken by Russia as a result of the Winter War) agitated for separation from Russia and Finland started giving them Finnish passports, and then insisted that a peacekeeping mission should staged there? And then later 'recognized' their independence? Finland would no more have that right than Russia had the right to do that in Georgia.

Indeed, it's a troubling tactic that could be used to spark all sorts of mischief in general around the world. That's why I mentioned how China has been murmuring about needed to be the guardian of ethnic Chinese across Asia -- not a good thing.

Ok, my last post in the thread. I still recommend facts check, but I can't force you.
May be a couple of new discoveries for you.

No, I can read, and if you examine that report I posted you'd see the chain of events in a broader context. I do not dislike Russia or Russians, so this is not a case of my wanting to throw hate or disrespect at Russia. I hope we can agree to disagree, and I wish you all the best.

Begemot14 Mar 2018 9:11 p.m. PST

Barin1 – Good job.

Jcfrog Supporting Member of TMP15 Mar 2018 5:26 a.m. PST

Nonone ever seems to consider the will of the locals.
Baltics do not want to be Russians. Some of the Ru speaking there might, most might already have gone. But even.
Why should they invade? Like in murder inquiries, just ask for motives?

Ossetians and esp. Abkhazians ( who make really good wines) want to be in Ru federation ( which is different from " being Russian") and have a long history of not being Georgians.
Just been with the very few "ethnic finns" , in Arkhangelsk oblast, a few thousands left, more Russian than many. Russians. No isdue at all.
Hardly any media, and I wonder if political advisers either do, in the west,
even tries to understand the realities, history and ground to earth specifics of these people.
On the other end, the break up of Yugoslavia, the bombing out of Kossovo, the break up of the soviet union were by any chance more allowed, or "people will" than these little historical people and for the same reason, Crimea, ever Russian, way long before Nice was French or maybe even Alsace? Just to say.
No saints there either, but meddling everywhere with near zero understanding of the locals, this overbearing and stupid "we are the right and the only way" is not going anywhere but for trouble. And now EU and up to a point USA are not any more able to rule borders and the world, standing over a shaky mountain of debts.

FatherOfAllLogic15 Mar 2018 9:00 a.m. PST

Yes, the Russians can overrun the Baltics very quickly.

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