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The Nature of Russia's Threat to NATO's Enhanced Forward Presence in the Baltic States

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[Technical Report, Master's Thesis]

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In the wake of Russias 2014 annexation of Crimea and subsequent military support to separatists fighting in Eastern Ukraine, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization NATO has deployed Enhanced Forward Presence EFP forces to Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland to reassure NATOs members and to deter Russian aggression. The EFP suggests policy makers consider a Russian incursion into the Baltic States a significant possibility. This thesis explores the nature of Russias threat to NATOs EFP. It details Russias national security strategy, military doctrine, and foreign policy toward the Baltic States to assess Russias political-strategic objectives. It analyzes Russias military reforms, recent performance in Ukraine and Syria, and organization and training for combat to assess the combat potential Russia could bring to bear against NATOs EFP. The research suggests Russia is conducting information operations to achieve policy objectives in the Baltic States and does not seek to cross the threshold into open, armed conflict with NATO. The EFP presents a viable military deterrent against Russian armed aggression through its trip-wire function, which would lead to deterrence by punishment. However, the Baltic States, and thereby NATO, remain vulnerable to Russian political and social influence by way of energy dependence, malign state influence in the information sphere, and Estonia and Latvias own divisive citizenship policies. NATOs ability to develop consensus on and codify what actions constitute an information operations attack will enhance NATOs ability to deter Russian information warfare.

Subject Categories:

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

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[A, Approved For Public Release]