Accession Number:



NATO's Northeastern Flank: Emerging Opportunities for Engagement

Descriptive Note:

[Technical Report, Research Report]

Corporate Author:

RAND Corporation

Report Date:


Pagination or Media Count:



For the first 25 years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the United States and its allies in NATO planned, postured, and engaged in Europe on the assumption that Russia was militarily capable of harming NATO and its European partners but did not intend to do so. Despite occasional tensions in relations between Washington and Moscow, Russia was widely believed to be on a trajectory toward closer integration and more peaceful relations with Europe, the United States, and its other neighbors. Russias annexation of Crimea and active efforts to occupy and destabilize parts of Eastern Ukraine since 2014, however, have sharply challenged this underlying assumption. Russian aggression in Ukraine, combined with Russian snap exercises military exercises called on short or no notice on NATOs borders, multiple aerial incursions into NATO and partner territory, cruise missile modernization, nuclear modernization, anti-Western rhetoric, and domestic political uncertainty, have forced a deep reassessment of U.S. strategy, plans, and posture in Europe and other regions in which Russia is active. The evolving security relationship with Russia has important implications for Air Force strategy, posture, and regional engagement. RAND was thus asked to assess opportunities for enhanced partnering in the region in the face of this increased Russian activity, and this report focuses on the implications of the changing relationship with Russia for U.S. Air Force partnership activities in a group of key allies and partner states in northeastern Europe. We took a strategic, top-down approach to the analysis. Focusing on nine key countries on NATOs northeastern flank - the Czech Republic, Estonia, Finland, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia, and Sweden - the report provides in-depth political-military assessments of how these countries responded to growing tensions with Russia in 2014 and 2015.


Subject Categories:

  • Military Forces and Organizations

Distribution Statement:

[A, Approved For Public Release]