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European Reassurance Initiative

Vox_Veritas
Posts: 7,074
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6/10/2016 4:25:00 AM
Posted: 6 months ago
So here's the gist: back in 2014, Russia annexed Crimea and started a civil war in Eastern Ukraine. After this, all of Europe and the United States got panicky about Vladimir Putin being the new Hitler, determined to see Russian forces sweep through Eastern Europe like an unstoppable Mongol horde, conquering everything in their path.
And THEN, some think tank came out with a scary-looking statistic: they estimated that it'd only take Russia about 60 hours at most to conquer the Baltics (Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania).
After this became known, Eastern Europe naturally become even more paranoid about Russia. How did they respond? Well, they demanded that NATO bulk up its forces in Eastern Europe so Eastern Europe could be successfully defended against any Russian threat. And NATO complied; it's set to quadruple its spending on Eastern Europe for FY2017.
Problem is, the Russians find this to be REALLY provoking, and it would arguably do more towards starting a war than preventing one.

Also, it's totally unnecessary for NATO to defend Eastern Europe against a Russian invasion. Allow me to explain.
Back in the days of the Cold War, it was calculated by NATO's war planning experts that the Warsaw Pact could successfully sweep across much of Western Europe in the initial phase of a WW3. HOWEVER, NATO planners also calculated that after mobilising, a NATO counteroffensive would succeed in liberating most if not all territory conquered by the Red during this hypothetical war. This became the backbone of NATO policy for most of its existence: its aim was the reasonably quick liberation of any NATO country seized by enemy forces rather than downright defending its periphery states against an invasion.
Now, one thing you have to keep in mind is that the Warsaw Pact was actually a worthy adversary for NATO. Today's Russia all by its lonesome is not.
After the communist Eastern Bloc collapsed, NATO began an eastward expansion into Europe, eventually incorporating the Baltic states, which literally border Russia. Eastern Europe is NATO's periphery, but this especially applies to the Baltics. Naturally, Russia has a geography advantage and it'd take some time for NATO to fully mobilise in response to a Russian invasion of the Baltics, so it really shouldn't surprise anyone that the Baltics would only be able to hold out for 60 hours at max. NATO's deterrent force comes from its ability to liberate the Baltics in the event of a Russian invasion, and in just about any protracted Baltic war scenario NATO would eventually emerge triumphant.

Therefore, the European Reassurance Initiative is unnecessary and probably harmful, except as a means to reassure Eastern Europe and strengthen its faith in the alliance.
Call me Vox, the Resident Contrarian of debate.org.

The DDO Blog:
https://debatedotorg.wordpress.com...

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Vox_Veritas
Posts: 7,074
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6/10/2016 4:40:47 AM
Posted: 6 months ago
TL;DR NATO shouldn't focus on defending Eastern Europe from a Russian invasion because NATO's already strong enough that it'd be able to liberate any part of Eastern Europe that was conquered by Russia after a year or two of war. Therefore, NATO doesn't need to have a ton of troops in Eastern Europe, and having those troops there just serves to anger Russia further.
Call me Vox, the Resident Contrarian of debate.org.

The DDO Blog:
https://debatedotorg.wordpress.com...

#drinkthecoffeenotthekoolaid
slo1
Posts: 4,351
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6/10/2016 8:51:57 PM
Posted: 6 months ago
At 6/10/2016 4:40:47 AM, Vox_Veritas wrote:
TL;DR NATO shouldn't focus on defending Eastern Europe from a Russian invasion because NATO's already strong enough that it'd be able to liberate any part of Eastern Europe that was conquered by Russia after a year or two of war. Therefore, NATO doesn't need to have a ton of troops in Eastern Europe, and having those troops there just serves to anger Russia further.

I'm a little conflicted. I agree. There are still a lot of non-NATO border countries to Russia. I do believe it is a valid deterrent to place more troops in NATO countries close to Russian border. if we can create the impression they could be used to aid a non-NATO country it may provide deterance.

In other terms I would have suspected that Russia would have thought a little harder invading Ukraine and annexing Crimea if there were a build up of NATO troops in Romainia ready to deploy. That of course means one has to be willing to start war so there is a level of uncertainty on the Russians part.

Russia isn't going to start WWIII, but they may continue to absorb strategic areas. I don't think I fully convinced myself that build up offers enough deterance so I think you have me convinced.
BlueParagon
Posts: 22
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6/11/2016 5:59:26 AM
Posted: 5 months ago
At 6/10/2016 4:40:47 AM, Vox_Veritas wrote:
TL;DR NATO shouldn't focus on defending Eastern Europe from a Russian invasion because NATO's already strong enough that it'd be able to liberate any part of Eastern Europe that was conquered by Russia after a year or two of war. Therefore, NATO doesn't need to have a ton of troops in Eastern Europe, and having those troops there just serves to anger Russia further.

Interesting read.
A1tre
Posts: 223
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6/11/2016 7:57:38 AM
Posted: 5 months ago
At 6/10/2016 4:25:00 AM, Vox_Veritas wrote:
So here's the gist: back in 2014, Russia annexed Crimea and started a civil war in Eastern Ukraine. After this, all of Europe and the United States got panicky about Vladimir Putin being the new Hitler, determined to see Russian forces sweep through Eastern Europe like an unstoppable Mongol horde, conquering everything in their path.
And THEN, some think tank came out with a scary-looking statistic: they estimated that it'd only take Russia about 60 hours at most to conquer the Baltics (Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania).
After this became known, Eastern Europe naturally become even more paranoid about Russia. How did they respond? Well, they demanded that NATO bulk up its forces in Eastern Europe so Eastern Europe could be successfully defended against any Russian threat. And NATO complied; it's set to quadruple its spending on Eastern Europe for FY2017.
Problem is, the Russians find this to be REALLY provoking, and it would arguably do more towards starting a war than preventing one.

Also, it's totally unnecessary for NATO to defend Eastern Europe against a Russian invasion. Allow me to explain.
Back in the days of the Cold War, it was calculated by NATO's war planning experts that the Warsaw Pact could successfully sweep across much of Western Europe in the initial phase of a WW3. HOWEVER, NATO planners also calculated that after mobilising, a NATO counteroffensive would succeed in liberating most if not all territory conquered by the Red during this hypothetical war. This became the backbone of NATO policy for most of its existence: its aim was the reasonably quick liberation of any NATO country seized by enemy forces rather than downright defending its periphery states against an invasion.
Now, one thing you have to keep in mind is that the Warsaw Pact was actually a worthy adversary for NATO. Today's Russia all by its lonesome is not.
After the communist Eastern Bloc collapsed, NATO began an eastward expansion into Europe, eventually incorporating the Baltic states, which literally border Russia. Eastern Europe is NATO's periphery, but this especially applies to the Baltics. Naturally, Russia has a geography advantage and it'd take some time for NATO to fully mobilise in response to a Russian invasion of the Baltics, so it really shouldn't surprise anyone that the Baltics would only be able to hold out for 60 hours at max. NATO's deterrent force comes from its ability to liberate the Baltics in the event of a Russian invasion, and in just about any protracted Baltic war scenario NATO would eventually emerge triumphant.

Therefore, the European Reassurance Initiative is unnecessary and probably harmful, except as a means to reassure Eastern Europe and strengthen its faith in the alliance.

You make an interesting case. I am no expert, but I think there are two important points you didn't consider:

1) Nuclear weapons
The US is obliged to aid any NATO member if they are attacked. Attacking a NATO member comes very close to attacking the US itself. Russia and the US both still have intercontinental missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads. Any official conflict between the two nations will eventually escalate into mutual nuclear annihilation. In this sense the MAD doctrine of the cold war is still as valid as ever. This is why Russia will never officially attack any NATO member. Which brings me to my next point:

2) Unconventional warfare
The fact that Russia will not directly attack any NATO member does not mean that they are safe from Russia as a threat. We live in an age in which most conflicts are carried out unconventionally. Often times the way to gain strategic influence is not by marching into a country but instead by funding rebels who are geopolitically aligned with one's own goals. Think of Russia and the seperatists in Ukraine or the US and the rebels in Syria. The Baltic states have large portiones of ethnic Russians amongst their population, just like in Eastern Ukraine. The fear the Baltic states have is that Putin would start funding rebels that might take over the country and possibly join Russia's direct or indirect sphere of influence. Putin could not be held accountable since he would simply deny his support for the rebels, leaving the US no basis on witch to confront him.

The best strategy to deal with this threat is to have a military that is capable of shutting down any rebellion within hours. If Ukraine had such a military they would have never lost control of the East and Putin would not have had time to deliver weapons and other supplies.

With no rebellion and no power vacuum Putin would have no excuse for a Crimea-like takeover of any territory. And if he attempted to do so anyway he would have to directly deal with NATO troops stationed there, making it a direct attack on the US which is something nobody wants to see happen.
Vox_Veritas
Posts: 7,074
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6/11/2016 4:19:25 PM
Posted: 5 months ago
At 6/11/2016 7:57:38 AM, A1tre wrote:
At 6/10/2016 4:25:00 AM, Vox_Veritas wrote:
So here's the gist: back in 2014, Russia annexed Crimea and started a civil war in Eastern Ukraine. After this, all of Europe and the United States got panicky about Vladimir Putin being the new Hitler, determined to see Russian forces sweep through Eastern Europe like an unstoppable Mongol horde, conquering everything in their path.
And THEN, some think tank came out with a scary-looking statistic: they estimated that it'd only take Russia about 60 hours at most to conquer the Baltics (Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania).
After this became known, Eastern Europe naturally become even more paranoid about Russia. How did they respond? Well, they demanded that NATO bulk up its forces in Eastern Europe so Eastern Europe could be successfully defended against any Russian threat. And NATO complied; it's set to quadruple its spending on Eastern Europe for FY2017.
Problem is, the Russians find this to be REALLY provoking, and it would arguably do more towards starting a war than preventing one.

Also, it's totally unnecessary for NATO to defend Eastern Europe against a Russian invasion. Allow me to explain.
Back in the days of the Cold War, it was calculated by NATO's war planning experts that the Warsaw Pact could successfully sweep across much of Western Europe in the initial phase of a WW3. HOWEVER, NATO planners also calculated that after mobilising, a NATO counteroffensive would succeed in liberating most if not all territory conquered by the Red during this hypothetical war. This became the backbone of NATO policy for most of its existence: its aim was the reasonably quick liberation of any NATO country seized by enemy forces rather than downright defending its periphery states against an invasion.
Now, one thing you have to keep in mind is that the Warsaw Pact was actually a worthy adversary for NATO. Today's Russia all by its lonesome is not.
After the communist Eastern Bloc collapsed, NATO began an eastward expansion into Europe, eventually incorporating the Baltic states, which literally border Russia. Eastern Europe is NATO's periphery, but this especially applies to the Baltics. Naturally, Russia has a geography advantage and it'd take some time for NATO to fully mobilise in response to a Russian invasion of the Baltics, so it really shouldn't surprise anyone that the Baltics would only be able to hold out for 60 hours at max. NATO's deterrent force comes from its ability to liberate the Baltics in the event of a Russian invasion, and in just about any protracted Baltic war scenario NATO would eventually emerge triumphant.

Therefore, the European Reassurance Initiative is unnecessary and probably harmful, except as a means to reassure Eastern Europe and strengthen its faith in the alliance.

You make an interesting case. I am no expert, but I think there are two important points you didn't consider:

1) Nuclear weapons
The US is obliged to aid any NATO member if they are attacked. Attacking a NATO member comes very close to attacking the US itself. Russia and the US both still have intercontinental missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads. Any official conflict between the two nations will eventually escalate into mutual nuclear annihilation. In this sense the MAD doctrine of the cold war is still as valid as ever. This is why Russia will never officially attack any NATO member. Which brings me to my next point:

I think I actually did make a thread dealing with this subject back in the day. And this is the conclusion that I came to: if Russia invaded the Baltics, it'd be a Baltic War (NATO is not obligated by treaty to declare full-out war with Russia in this scenario but rather to just defend the Baltics, and NATO leadership certainly does not desire a war with Russia). If both sides understood the need to restrict the conflict to the Baltics, then there'd be little or no risk of nuclear escalation.

2) Unconventional warfare
The fact that Russia will not directly attack any NATO member does not mean that they are safe from Russia as a threat. We live in an age in which most conflicts are carried out unconventionally. Often times the way to gain strategic influence is not by marching into a country but instead by funding rebels who are geopolitically aligned with one's own goals. Think of Russia and the seperatists in Ukraine or the US and the rebels in Syria. The Baltic states have large portiones of ethnic Russians amongst their population, just like in Eastern Ukraine. The fear the Baltic states have is that Putin would start funding rebels that might take over the country and possibly join Russia's direct or indirect sphere of influence. Putin could not be held accountable since he would simply deny his support for the rebels, leaving the US no basis on witch to confront him.

If it's just a Putin-sponsored rebellion in the Baltics, then we'd simply see a huge NATO deployment to the Baltics to suppress the rebellion, and the OP wouldn't apply here.

The best strategy to deal with this threat is to have a military that is capable of shutting down any rebellion within hours. If Ukraine had such a military they would have never lost control of the East and Putin would not have had time to deliver weapons and other supplies.

With no rebellion and no power vacuum Putin would have no excuse for a Crimea-like takeover of any territory. And if he attempted to do so anyway he would have to directly deal with NATO troops stationed there, making it a direct attack on the US which is something nobody wants to see happen.
Call me Vox, the Resident Contrarian of debate.org.

The DDO Blog:
https://debatedotorg.wordpress.com...

#drinkthecoffeenotthekoolaid
Vox_Veritas
Posts: 7,074
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6/11/2016 4:21:31 PM
Posted: 5 months ago
However, one thing that could deter Russia from sponsoring an insurgency in the Baltics is that you'd see a huge NATO deployment at Russia's borders, far beyond even the current European Reassurance Initiative.
Call me Vox, the Resident Contrarian of debate.org.

The DDO Blog:
https://debatedotorg.wordpress.com...

#drinkthecoffeenotthekoolaid
Vox_Veritas
Posts: 7,074
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6/11/2016 4:55:21 PM
Posted: 5 months ago
Another thing to note is that the situation on the ground in the Baltics is markedly different than in Ukraine. The ethnics Russians of the Baltic states are far less likely to attempt secession than the ethnic Russians in Ukraine.
Call me Vox, the Resident Contrarian of debate.org.

The DDO Blog:
https://debatedotorg.wordpress.com...

#drinkthecoffeenotthekoolaid