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Deterring Russia's Revanchist Ambitions in the Baltic Republics

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Technical Report

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Air War College Maxwell AFB United States

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Russias invasion of Ukraine and swift annexation of the Crimean Peninsula in 2014 put the West on notice. To reassert the prestige lost since the Cold Wars end, Russian President Vladimir Putin galvanized his political base with the promise of revanchism. The recent case of Ukraine is particularly alarming not only due to the forceful seizure of territory but also the hybrid warfighting techniques employed by Russian forces. The Baltic nations of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, former Soviet Republics with fledgling Western governments located on Russias immediate border and, importantly, members of the NATO alliance, seem a logical future target for aggression. For the United States and NATO, the costs of failing to deter Russias revanchist ambitions are clear either initiating a costly campaign to liberate an Alliance member or allowing Russia to remake the post-Cold War order. In the context of the recent conflict in Ukraine and the binding nature of NATOs collective security guarantee, this paper will examine the steps the U.S. and NATO can reasonably take to deter Russias revanchist ambitions in the Baltic republics, particularly from the threat of hybrid warfare. It will begin by providing a brief history of the Baltic Republics and the threat posed by Russia and hybrid warfare. Next, this paper will explore the strategic interests of the main protagonists and consider the requirements for an effective deterrent strategy. Finally, it will examine various ways and means across the various instruments of power that might be applied to deter Russian aggression in the Baltics, especially from the threat of hybrid warfare. In the final analysis, it is only through resolute action in implementing policy recommendations that encompass all instruments of power that the U.S. and NATO will be able to effectively deter Russian aggression and achieve their strategic interests in the region.

Subject Categories:

  • Government and Political Science
  • Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics

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