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2019.10.22 09:00

Lithuanians will fight for their existence – US think tank publishes report on Baltic states’ defence

LRT.lt2019.10.22 09:00

The Jamestown Foundation, an influential US think tank, has published a report in October on ‘how to defend the Baltic states’.

The report puts greatest emphasis on the role played by the US, “the undisputed leader of NATO,” and its position to overcome the still unsolved military mobility, interoperability and readiness issues encountered by NATO’s European allies. Jamestown therefore calls on Washington to take the “defence of the Baltics as a critical priority”.

The war gaming scenario discussed in the report indicates that Kaliningrad would be taken by “US and Polish forces” as a mean to defend the Baltic states, if Russia initiates a conventional military attack.

With the onset of a theoretical conflict, NATO militaries, including forces from Germany, France and the UK, will fail to arrive in time for the quickly-narrowing window to deploy, but once achieving a build-up, the report argues that “‘ceasefire offers’ [from Russia] to ‘facilitate negotiations’ should be ignored as delaying tactics to allow Russia to generate more forces".

"Escalation in Ukraine’s Donbass can also be expected," the report states.

The authors also indicate that “stronger NATO ground forces in the Baltics do not seem politically feasible for now,” and therefore, call on the Baltic states “to do more” by fielding higher number of military personnel, totaling “some 15 maneuver battalions,” a third of them armoured or mechanised, “and 12-15 artillery battalions”.

To achieve that, Jamestown Foundations names the US European Deterrence Initiative as the funding mechanism that could be used in the Baltics, as “virtually none of the 15 billion US dollars appropriated to date for the EDI has found its way to [the Baltic states]”.

Additionally, the US could hand over armoured vehicles that are currently in storage, including M1A1 tanks, to the Baltic states, following the earlier precedent when the US gifted Morocco 162 tanks.

Although, “sustained finding would be required to ensure a regular pipeline of spare parts and ammunition,” the initial transfer could be done via the EDI funding.

Here are the key take-aways from the report: