Unconventional Options for the Defense of the Baltic States

The Swiss Approach

by Jan Osburg

Download Free Electronic Document

FormatFile SizeNotes
PDF file 1.1 MB

Use Adobe Acrobat Reader version 7.0 or higher for the best experience.

Russia's annexation of Crimea and continued support of Russian separatists in Ukraine have generated concerns about the security of NATO members Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. These countries border Russian territory and have sizable ethnic Russian populations. In case of attack on any of the Baltic states, NATO would be compelled to act or admit strategic defeat. Therefore, it is imperative to deter such aggression — and to counter it if deterrence should fail. This RAND perspective examines how key concepts and elements of the decentralized resistance approach that was part of Swiss military strategy during the Cold War could also benefit the defense of the Baltic states. This includes training and equipping independent local defense units, preparing transportation infrastructure for demolition to prevent an invasion, and instructing military forces and the public in how to effectively participate in resistance activities, alongside a coordinated information operations campaign. The perspective also discusses similarities and differences between the Swiss and Baltic contexts and proposes steps toward an unconventional strategy for Baltic defense.

This RAND-Initiated Research was provided by philanthropic contributions from RAND supporters and income from operations. This research was conducted within the International Security and Defense Policy Center of the RAND National Security Research Division (NSRD).

This report is part of the RAND Corporation perspective series. RAND perspectives present informed perspective on a timely topic that address the challenges facing the public and private sectors. All RAND perspectives undergo rigorous peer review to ensure high standards for research quality and objectivity.

Permission is given to duplicate this electronic document for personal use only, as long as it is unaltered and complete. Copies may not be duplicated for commercial purposes. Unauthorized posting of RAND PDFs to a non-RAND Web site is prohibited. RAND PDFs are protected under copyright law. For information on reprint and linking permissions, please visit the RAND Permissions page.

The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.