Russia is engaged in an active, worldwide propaganda campaign, but it is particularly interested in targeting its western border. What can the United States and allied governments do to limit Russian influence in the region?
Russia uses social media in nearby states to sow dissent against neighboring governments and NATO. Options for countering the Kremlin's campaign include tracking and blocking propaganda more quickly and offering alternative content to help displace the Russian narrative.
The United States and key allies have taken steps toward redressing the imbalance in military power between NATO and Russia in Northeastern Europe. But NATO's defense planners must be clear-eyed about what remains to be done.
Since 2008 Russia has been expanding and refining its readiness for conventional warfare. These improvements have reduced the qualitative and technological gaps between Russia and NATO. What do recent trends imply for the balance of capabilities in NATO member states in the Baltic Sea region?
An increased NATO presence in the Baltics could motivate Russia for an invasion. U.S. and NATO deployments in the region should take seriously Russian beliefs about NATO capabilities in planning future deployments, and by pursuing transparency and negotiation in future deployments in the Baltic region.
The Baltic states' thinking about national defense increasingly encompasses civil society, starting from the leveraging of civilian infrastructure to the participation of civilians in national defense..
Will renewed tension between NATO and Russia prevent key U.S. allies and partners in Europe from being able to contribute to U.S. regional defense objectives? What can the U.S. do to strengthen its European partnerships?
NATO alliance countries deploying to the Baltics should prepare to deal with increasing levels of disinformation. An open and robust communication strategy could be crucial in tackling a sophisticated Russian disinformation campaign aimed at disrupting support for these deployments.
The United States and NATO face several challenges in deterring Russia in the Baltics. Solving these is vital to achieving core U.S. objectives in Europe. The first step is to ensure that NATO can stay in the game and deny Moscow an easy strategic victory.
Russia would likely have trouble using nonviolent tactics to destabilize the Baltics. Covert violent action is also unlikely to succeed on its own. Thus, the Baltics' main vulnerability is Russia's local superiority in conventional forces.
The government of Lithuania issued a guide on how its citizens can resist a potential Russian invasion and occupation. Resistance is a key element of the “Total Defense” strategy which all three Baltic states have been pursuing to varying degrees, spurred on by Russian aggression in Crimea and elsewhere.
A series of wargames examined the probable outcome of a Russian invasion of the Baltic states. The wargames showed that a near-term Russian invasion could reach the Estonian and Latvian capitals in less than 60 hours.
At its Warsaw summit in July, NATO agreed to establish a permanent rotating presence of its troops in Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. The decision may be interpreted as NATO's commitment to take its Baltic members' concerns seriously.
U.S. defense engagement priorities in Europe are shifting in the face of Russian aggression. By engaging strategically on NATO's northeastern flank, the United States can strengthen deterrence while minimizing inadvertent escalation.
A series of wargames examined the potential results of a Russian invasion of the Baltic states. While such an invasion appears unlikely, its consequences would be so dangerous that not taking steps to deter it more robustly would be imprudent.