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Consider the facts that Article 5 is the cornerstone of NATO alliance, how the collective military strength of NATO massively dwarfs that of Russia, how Russia has fared in Ukraine, how depleted it is. I cannot fathom how Russia could even entertain the idea, let alone execute it, because the outcome of a conventional confrontation is very predictable, whereas going nuclear means everybody dies and nobody wins.

But a lot of European politicians are talking about that being a possibility in the future. Because of the aforementioned reasons, to me it seems more unlikely than an asteroid hitting Europe. So perhaps I am missing something. Are those fears legitimate? If so, why? I wonder if they are simply a tactic to maintain continued support for the Ukrainian war effort.

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    Voting to keep the question open. This is not a question "asking for the internal motivations of people, how specific individuals would behave in hypothetical situations or predictions for future events". The fears of war may be legitimate or illegitimate based on (a) history of past wars waged by Russia/USSR, and (b) the corresponding level of Russian rhetoric now vs the past. Dec 29, 2023 at 12:46
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    It's an interesting question but unfortunately too speculative and not a good fit for this site. The true answer is that only history will show. Maybe we will face nuclear armageddon tomorrow, maybe not. Who knows. We aren't good at estimating this. All we can say is that most politicians at least in public do seem to not really expect such a move anytime soon. Dec 30, 2023 at 21:22
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    I am closing this question because speculations about the future are off-topic on this website.
    – Philipp
    Dec 31, 2023 at 17:01
  • 1
    @ItalianPhilosophers4Monica . "Does the balance of conventional military forces between NATO and Russia, as well as the existing Mutually Assured Destruction between the two, give any reason to expect an attack by Russia on a NATO state?" Let's say the community answers with yes, what exactly would you have learned? Just looking at the answers, it all boils down to: bad stuff can happen, which is as much as I would have guessed without the answers. Speculative questions can be interesting and not answerable at the same time. Jan 1 at 7:30
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    I'm voting to reopen as there is plenty of actual concrete evidence that can be brought to the argument including the actions of european states (two neutral countries will join NATO, Russian propaganda is relevant, history is relevant). Those are consequential facts not mere speculations about internal motivation.
    – matt_black
    Jan 1 at 19:10

11 Answers 11

31

Dictatorships do idiotic things. Their actions cannot be predicted with the approach "it would not be clever for them to do".

For example:

  • The Great Chinese Famine, which occurred during Mao Zedong's rule from 1959 to 1961, took somewhere from 15 to 45 million of his citizens.
  • Hitler sent the army totally unprepared for the harsh Russian winter, meaning for them stalled tanks, frozen soldiers and bogged-down supply lines.
  • Nikita Khrushchev planted maize in Lithuania where it does not grow because of the climate.
  • Saparmurat Niyazov built a massive ice palace in the desert.
  • Caligula appointed his horse as a priest and planned to make it a consul.
  • Emomali Rahmon shut down YouTube nationwide because of a video of him dancing awkwardly at a wedding.
  • Idi Amin (Uganda) declared himself the King of Scotland.

For some reasons dictatorships are prone to irrational behaviour, to make a long story short. If they say they think to do something, they may. They do make propaganda preparation for invasion into Baltic states, rewriting in advance the history, rewriting the truth. See 1, 2 or 3, for instance.

The success and prosperity of democratic Russia is the only safety guarantee, both for Europe and for them.

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    -1 because this answer implies that democracies don't do idiotic things. There are plenty of examples to the contrary, viz. not so long ago there was this idea from the leader of a democratic country that ingesting disinfectant cures Covid.
    – Allure
    Dec 31, 2023 at 6:38
  • 4
    And under true dictatorship, everyone would be forced to drink these desinfectants, with anyone saying a word against jailed and all doctors and scientists singing yes. Democracy has processes to stop such things, everyone can say the king is naked.
    – Stančikas
    Dec 31, 2023 at 9:33
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    Only if the dictator really believes it is effective & is willing to force people to drink it. In democratic societies, some people will go ahead and drink it on their own free will (theguardian.com/world/2020/mar/24/…), and they have the right to vote.
    – Allure
    Dec 31, 2023 at 9:45
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    @Allure on the risks of making this a no-true-Scotsman: it could be argued that Trump never governed as a democratic leader but rather dictator over the Republican party, which just happened to be in democratically-elected power at this time. A better example would be Germany's decision to abandon nuclear power, or perhaps Brexit. Dec 31, 2023 at 17:12
  • Press, law, history, even other science do not work properly in dictatorships. This is why they make blunders.
    – Stančikas
    Dec 31, 2023 at 18:13
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Russian state TV hosts and guests mentioned numerous times that the Baltic States and Poland should be and could be attacked by Russia, including with nuclear weapons.

Russian state TV has been increasingly mentioning the possibility, and even the necessity of the actual war with the West, often using apocalyptic scenarios. Such war is justified, in the view of many of the hosts and guests, by the current existential standoff between Russia and the West, in which the West is portrayed as an aggressor, trying to destroy Russia.

The countries under threat from Russia should take such threats seriously. Indeed, similar threats addressed to Ukraine from Russian state TV had been issued on numerous occasions prior to February 2022. And then, as a natural consequence, the invasion of Ukraine actually did take place. Note that all of this happened despite all the constant assurances of the Kremlin that they were not planning to invade.

Thus, the threats of war by Russians should be taken more seriously than their assurances of peace.

References:

US is the enemy

they are the devils

we will win or disappear

we are the best

Vladimir Solovyov sees devils everywhere: Russian Media Monitor by Julia Davis, December 28, 2023


A Kremlin propagandist with close links to Vladimir Putin has said that Russia should use nuclear weapons against the West to protect Russian speakers in the Baltic states.

Vladimir Solovyov was giving his reaction to restrictions being proposed in Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia on Russian citizens and Russian speakers, in response to Putin's full-scale invasion of Ukraine. ... But Solovyov warned of reprisals from Moscow over the measures being proposed in the former Soviet countries which border Russia and are EU and NATO members.

Calling the Baltic states "Nazi," he said that "you want to prohibit us, the Russian people from being able to speak our own language, even though 40 percent of Latvians are Russian speakers."

"OK, we are going to send in our troops to defend the Russian-speaking population," he said during a segment on his show Full Contact on the Russia-1 channel on Tuesday.

"Will the NATO countries jump in?" he said, asking whether European capitals were "ready to burn from the strikes of our missiles, and if necessary, from our tactical nuclear weapons."

Putin Would Nuke NATO to Defend Russian Speakers in Baltics, Ally Suggests


Solovyov then seemed to broaden his nuclear threat from tactical to strategic as he noted Pskov's proximity to NATO countries Estonia and Latvia. He said that if the drones had been launched from the Baltic states "then erase them from the face of the Earth."

"If the strike was launched from a NATO country this is NATO's declaration of war against Russia," he said, "that means in response, nuclear weapons should be immediately used." Estonia has said that it was not behind the drone attack.

Newsweek has contacted NATO by email for comment.

Since the start of the war, Solovyov and guests on his evening TV show have repeatedly invoked Russia's nuclear capabilities, calling for strikes on countries that are supporting Kyiv and sometimes, for their use on the battlefield. While there has been a nuclear threat hanging over the war, the received wisdom from experts that such a move is unlikely at the moment.

Putin Ally Suggests Russia Can't Win Without Nuclear Weapons


Putin’s reassurances about his peaceful intentions toward NATO ring hollow in the context of the threats he and Kremlin pundits have recently been making against NATO member states. Putin threatened Poland on July 21, stating that Russia would respond “with all the means” at its disposal after Warsaw sent troops to the Belarusian-Polish border due to the redeployment of Wagner Group fighters to Belarus.[8] Deputy Chairman of the Russian Security Council Dmitry Medvedev threatened on August 29 that Russia had “an opportunity to act within the framework of jus ad bellum against everyone in NATO countries” when commenting on Western support of Ukrainian strikes on occupied Crimea.[9] Medvedev similarly threatened Poland in November when he stated that Russia deems Warsaw to be a “dangerous enemy” that could lose its “statehood.”[10] A Russian propagandist suggested on Russian state TV on December 2 that Baltic states would be Russia’s next military target and that they would fall shortly after Ukraine.[11] Russian propagandist Vladimir Solovyov, Medvedev, and other pundits consistently threaten to use nuclear weapons against the United States and other NATO countries.[12] These threats are part of long-standing Russian narratives about attacking NATO that predated Finland’s application and acceptance into the alliance on April 4.[13] The statements of Russian pundits do not pose a military threat to NATO countries, to be sure, but they are important context for Putin’s ostensible effort to calm the waters during his December 17 interview. Putin’s proclamation that Russia has no interest in invading NATO is also very similar to the Kremlin’s persistent claims in late 2021 and early 2022 — including right up to the eve of the invasion — that Russia did not intend to invade Ukraine.[14] The interview was likely a deliberate attempt to reamplify the Kremlin’s efforts to misrepresent the Russian military threat as an imaginary and artificial NATO invention.[15]

Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, December 17, 2023 | Critical Threats

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    This interpretation seems to be based on cherry picking some hysterical claims of a television presenter. Is there any senior Russian government official saying anything like this? No.
    – Dughall
    Dec 29, 2023 at 17:29
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    @Dughall There are many examples of such very high-ranking Russian state-controlled TV hosts and officials saying similar things. There is no need for cherry-picking - the whole Russian TV propaganda is covered with cherries! And, as I wrote in the answer: " Indeed, similar threats addressed to Ukraine from Russian state TV had been issued on numerous occasions prior to February 2022. And then, as a natural consequence, the invasion of Ukraine actually did take place. Note that all of this happened despite all the constant assurances of the Kremlin that they were not planning to invade." Dec 29, 2023 at 17:39
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    @TimurShtatland but so what? Have you never heard the phrase "saber rattling"? How is this different from media in any other country? You're in the USA so you'll know that for several years the media was telling Americans about Trump's "Russian collusion" and hundreds of other blatant lies. Do you think Putin or Lavrov tell these TV presenters what to say? Yes it's true they would lose their jobs if they opposed the government but the point is they are not the government.
    – Dughall
    Dec 30, 2023 at 20:10
  • "Thus, the threats of war by Russians should be taken more seriously than their assurances of peace." Does this really follow? It could also just be a bluff to create a bit of pressure when in truth nothing the like will be happening. Dec 30, 2023 at 21:24
22

Asides from Russian sword-rattling, Baltic and Polish concerns and CNN punditry?

Militarily? Very little risk. Russia was very questionable on invading NATO before Feb 24th, 2022. Insufficient wealth, population and armed forces, iffy technology, outdated tactics and so on...

Since then it has bled itself dry both in terms of people as well as its hoarded stock of Soviet cheap-n-cheerful gear. Its tactical and strategic ineptitude has outshined even its biggest pre-war detractors (make no mistake however, it is learning). Its main success has been on the defensive, not least thanks to deploying masses of anti-personnel mines. On the flip side, NATO gear and tactics, even such hand-me-downs as Ukraine has been getting, despite the near-total absence of Ukrainian airpower, has done rather well against Soviet era gear.

The flip side of the above is that, while pre-2022 a Russian conventional attack might have found many European politicians warning of the dire dangers of messing with the Russian Bear and counselling caution, those people would have a considerably harder time making their case nowadays. Russia will be well aware of the degradation in its, non-nuclear, deterrence ability.

Russia is at strategic nuclear parity, but that only means it can't be invaded by NATO. And if by wonders of wonders it somehow won conventionally, that strategic nuclear parity also goes both ways.

No, the reason for supporting Ukraine are threefold:

  • left to its own devices Russia will keep on being the noxious neighbors to its near-abroad.

  • Ukraine deserves better from the West, at a moral level. I don't necessarily subscribe to taking it into NATO, due to heightened risks and tensions with Russia. But generally integrating into Europe, should it be so desired by its people and should it meet EU criteria should be very much on the table. Ukrainians should decide the future of Ukraine, not Putin or Patriarch Kirill.

  • make no mistake, Western cowardice and pusillanimity will not be lost on China as it eyes Taiwan. A reputation for appeasement will be just as negative in the 2030s as it was in the 1930s.

p.s. None of this is to say that Putin's Russia couldn't be irrational and suicidal, but talking up risks of invasion on that basis would be pure speculation. And neither does this answer suggest NATO let its guard down in the least.

p.p.s. Yet another reason to doubt the actual risks is that Russia's troops are "busy elsewhere". i.e. Russia's Western-facing troops are being drawn down to Ukraine, and massively so. Below is one, partisan, example, but there are more to be had if one looks around. IIRC there was one from Finland about low levels of ground troops near their border after 5-6 months back.

This rather obvious flaw in the Kremlin’s logic was thrust into the spotlight on November 26 when Britain’s Ministry of Defense reported that Russia had likely withdrawn vital air defense systems from its Baltic Sea enclave of Kaliningrad to cover mounting losses in Ukraine. Many saw this as a particularly significant development as Kaliningrad is Russia’s most westerly outpost and is bordered on three sides by NATO member states. If Russian leaders were remotely serious about the possibility of a military confrontation with NATO, Kaliningrad is the last place they would want to leave undefended.

p.p.p.s. Let's not confuse political intent with military capability. Russia's ill-will towards NATO may be at all-time high since the fall of the USSR. Its capability to do so, in the conventional land warfare realm, not so much. Some other answers concentrate on intent, mine doesn't.

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Entirely unreasonable. In fact, an entire shade even less reasonable than Russia launching a full-scale invasion of Ukraine in 2022.

Which was obviously an unreasonable fear then. As that was an entire shade less reasonable than Russia siezing Crimea and starting a war in Donbas in 2014.

Which was obviously an unreasonable fear then.

So entirely unreasonable, yet still a real possibility.

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12

The article 5 does not say "all parties shall use all their forces to attack the aggressor". It says

[Parties] will assist the Party or Parties so attacked by taking forthwith, individually and in concert with the other Parties, such action as it deems necessary, including the use of armed force, to restore and maintain the security of the North Atlantic area.

If some country decides sending 5 000 protective helmets is the proper action, it would be of course debatable, but debate takes time and the aggressor proceeds meanwhile.

The most probable NATO victims of Russian aggression are Baltic States. Of course, if USA comes with their carriers and aircraft, Russia will soon be without air defense, aircraft and attacking forces would be stripped of supplies. But what if USA is engaged on Pacific, because China decides to take Taiwan by force?

Baltics are in very inconvenient place for NATO to defend - the only land direction the rescue forces may come is through Polish-Lithuanian border. Poland has sent most of their armor to Ukraine and now desperately buys new tanks etc. But it takes time. There are 3 missile frigates contracted, but it will take about 7 years for them to be ready.
German army is not in good shape and Eastern Flank countries do not trust them much, after their long lasting flirt with Russia.
France shows will to engage in defending Baltics. NATO accession of Finland (done) and Sweden (in progress) might be a gamechanger here, and we can only speculate, what Turkey would do. But if USA is engaged elsewhere (or if Trump wins and says the Europe should take care of itself) it does not look like easy defeat of Russia. So warning about the danger and arming one-selves seems quite rational.

2
  • "Poland has sent most of their armor to Ukraine and now desperately buys new tanks" I think the desperately makes it sound more dramatic than it really is. NATO states have increased military spending, while Russia is losing people and material in the war in Ukraine. That surely means that the military strength of NATO including Poland relative to Russia is increasing, not decreasing. NATO states kept the best stuff for themselves. Dec 30, 2023 at 21:30
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    @NoDataDumpNoContribution, "NATO states kept the best stuff for themselves." - it may be true but it's also a strategic absurdity. Diverting weapons from the actual front where hundreds of thousands have been killed and wounded, to a place where there is not likely to be any fighting.
    – Steve
    Dec 30, 2023 at 22:12
4

Question:

How reasonable are fears of Russia attacking any NATO country in the foreseeable future?

Short Answer:

He has already attacked NATO. Wagner raided into Poland August 2023. Just like when he invaded Ukraine in 2014. Seeking to deny the Russian wasn't responsible for the mercenary group they trained, outfitted, supplied and who has been fighting on their behalf for like their entire history.

It was only Unified NATO response which rolled that back.

Putin isn't an honest nor a reasonable actor. Judging his actions on what is reasonable is folly. Listen to what the sad little man says and take him at his word.

Answer:

Not reasonable at all! The problem is "reasonableness" is not what authoritarian dictators are known for. How "reasonable" was Putin's invasion of Ukraine on the grounds the jewish President of Ukraine was a Nazi? How many times did Puton say he would never invade Ukraine leading up to the invasion? Like every day for months?

  • Putin's word is not reliable.
  • Putin's actions so far are reckless and irrational.
  • His entire gamble is if he can split NATO and grant one nation saftey in exchange for not supporting another neighbor.
  • With his quislings in the United States throwing a monkey wrench into the U.S. support he is hoping to apply pressure and outlast the west.

Putin's entire argument is he's a reasonable man and we can trust him not to come for Poland, the Baltics, Belarus, or Moldova once he's consumed Ukraine. He can't stand up to NATO, so he wants to consume it piece meal. That should sound very familiar to any student of 20th century history.

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Consider the facts that Article 5 is the cornerstone of NATO alliance, how the collective military strength of NATO massively dwarfs that of Russia, how Russia has fared in Ukraine, how depleted it is. I absolutely cannot fathom how Russia could even entertain the idea, let alone execute it, because the outcome of a conventional confrontation is very predictable, whereas going nuclear means everybody dies and nobody wins.

There's an assumption embedded in this that NATO's possession of overwhelming conventional force means that Russia will be cowed into inaction.

This is potentially wrong for several reasons.

Firstly, people do sometimes fight to the death. It's empirically not that unusual. It's especially not that unusual in circumstances that resemble this context where one side acts arrogantly thinking it can simply cow the other with overwhelming violent force, such as badly-governed prisons, or even Israel-Palestine.

The evidence shows people only consistently respond to threats in quite low-stakes competitions, and that high-stakes conflicts are either regulated by shared ideology or else they escalate indefinitely to maximum force.

Secondly, if Russia thinks the West are in an arrogant mode of thought based on their military supremacy, it will launch a war of mutual destruction, because you can't reason with or coexist with such an arrogant enemy, and Russia's destruction would already be assured when facing such an enemy (given at how close proximity the West already is - there's no buffer zone that Putin can even consider ceding, like there was in the Cold War with the USSR).

So it becomes a one-way bet - at worst you deal fatal destruction to a mortal enemy you can't beat, and at best you actually alter the situation so radically that your enemy is weakened and equalised with you (or the successor regimes on each side are equalised).

Thirdly, there is a real prospect that the NATO alliance would fold when faced with the need to escalate to worldwide nuclear winter.

This is because Putin leads a single regime fighting on its own territorial doorstep, whereas NATO consists of many individual regimes, many of which have no great individual interest at stake (nothing to die for, I mean).

America, France, and Germany would find it impossible to mobilise their general populations to fight on some foreign Eastern European border hundreds or thousands of miles from their territory, and by implication they'd find it impossible to accept the fate of their own regimes over some faraway skirmish. Indeed their populations might even be jubilant about the collapse of the EU single market covering these territories, because the liberal leaderships (and their ideas) often stand in opposition to popular ideas.

It doesn't matter how much NATO stamps its feet and members merely say they are determined to die for its treaty obligations. The Russians will look behind the rhetoric and analyse the reality of how the NATO alliance is assembled, and how it consists of a large array of leaders with conflicting interests and rooted almost entirely in local territories.

Does NATO have a single command and control leadership who consider the entirety of NATO to be their national territory? And do they have a population who think the same, and can be mobilised in defence of every corner of that territory? The answer is no - not by a long shot.

The real danger for the world is not that Putin actually overplays his hand. It would be that Western liberals believe they have a much stronger hand, and cause their own destruction as other regimes feel forced to go all in to correct perceptions.

In reality, there's no sign that anyone at the forefront of Western politics has any of these illusions - the US has been dilatory and restrained in its escalations with Russia, doing little more in Ukraine than they did in 1980s Afghanistan of flooding weapons, bankrolling local extremists, and denying any peace to the USSR.

The reality is also that the US was hoping the existing level of pressure would already have caused Russia to destabilise politically or economically. But it's actually caused considerable instability for the West, too.

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  • Comments have been moved to chat; please do not continue the discussion here. Before posting a comment below this one, please review the purposes of comments. Comments that do not request clarification or suggest improvements usually belong as an answer, on Politics Meta, or in Politics Chat. Comments continuing discussion may be removed.
    – JJJ
    Dec 30, 2023 at 22:45
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    "France and Germany would find it impossible to mobilise their general populations to fight on some foreign Eastern European border thousands of miles from their territory" is misleading. Hundreds of miles, but no Eastern European border is as much as two thousand miles from Berlin or Paris.
    – prosfilaes
    Dec 31, 2023 at 2:12
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    @prosfilaes, you seem to be repeating yourself.
    – Steve
    Dec 31, 2023 at 10:06
1

Who knows? Recently TASS/Putin said

Deportation of Russians from Latvia affects Russian security — Putin

"The events that are taking place in Latvia and other Baltic countries now, when the Russian people are being thrown out, are very serious and directly affect the security of our country," Russian President Vladimir Putin said.

The Latvian authorities have sent repeated letters threatening to deport 985 Russians who failed to meet the requirement to obtain a residence permit in the country, the LTV TV channel reported with reference to the chief of the Office of Citizenship and Migration Affairs, Maira Roze.

In September 2022, the Saeima (unicameral parliament) of Latvia adopted amendments to the law on migration, which obliged Russian citizens who have permanent residence in the Baltic republic, to obtain a certificate of proficiency in the Latvian language at the A2 level by September 1, 2023. Otherwise, they would lose their residence status in the country.

On September 14, 2023, the Latvian Parliament approved the final reading of an amendment to the Immigration Law, extending the period to pass the state language exam by two years en route to obtaining the right to be a permanent resident in the Republic. Now Russian citizens living in Latvia will be able to obtain a temporary residence permit for two years, during which they will have to pass the state language exam.

Insofar he's not calling it a genocide or ethnic cleansing, but... he also didn't exactly say how the deportation of those people back to Russia "affects Russian security". It does however reflect a "securitization" of most bilateral matters.


the outcome of a conventional confrontation is very predictable

It's only predictable if issues like "why die for Danzig?" are ignored. And they do have their modern version even if perhaps not utterly that often about the Baltics right now.

And for the fans of alternate history, it's not super clear how WW2 would have turned out if Hitler had acctually stopped after Poland. The "Phony War" suggests at least some some reluctance from Westerners to escalate, at least immediately.


Anyhow, the fear is not necessarily that Putin will succeed in keeping the Baltics if he invades them, but that any war [even a successful counteroffensive] will wreck them, because the initial deployment of forces would favor a surprise Russian attack (after they're done with Ukraine):

Russia's invasion of Ukraine, and particularly the horrific scenes of mistreatment of civilians, has triggered a renewed recognition of the horrors of war for civilian populations in occupied areas. In the Baltics, and other countries this is a reminder of the atrocities experienced during World War II under German and Soviet occupations, and after the war as the Soviet occupation continued.

The war in Ukraine demonstrates anew the cost of war on civilians. Russia managed to occupy up to 54,000 square miles—more than twice the territory of Lithuania—in the first months of the expanded invasion. Lithuanian Foreign Minister Landsbergis summed up the feeling of many in the Baltics when he said in March 2023: “When we see Bucha, Irpin, civilian buildings destroyed, we think about our cities, we think about our people.”

The forces deployed in the Baltics are probably insufficient to prevent a Russian blitz there, assuming they outright win Ukraine.

The Baltics have been pushing for the NATO tripwire battalion battlegroups in the region to be expanded to combat-ready brigades in each country and for NATO to commit to a permanent presence, and a division ready to deploy to each country to help them defend against an invasion from day one. But the development of regional military plans has been slow and Baltic anxieties climaxed earlier this year when Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas caused a stir by criticizing the alliance's defense plans. These plans, she said, would “allow [the Baltic states] to be overrun before liberating them after 180 days,” leading to a “complete destruction” of the small coastal countries.

The first NATO defense plans for its Baltic members were approved in 2010 but were not enough to defend the Baltics rapidly and against a serious Russian threat. Then in 2020 NATO adopted the Graduated Response Plan (aka Eagle Defender), regional military plans for the Baltics and Poland that had been drafted already in 2014, but the adoption of which had been stalled by Turkey over a demand for NATO to recognize the Kurdish YPG militia as a terrorist organization.

[...] The new defense plans signed in 2023 seem to satisfy the Baltic fear of having to claw back their territory while witnessing their civilians suffering under Russian occupation. Estonian Minister of Defense Hanno Pevkur acknowledged that “previously deterrence centered around NATO's ability to defend and if necessary retake its territory, new defense plans concentrate on not having the luxury of surrendering territory in the Baltic region that lacks strategic depth.”

[...] On paper, NATO commitment looks ironclad. In practice, the new NATO defense plans may take years to implement. [...] NATO is working to muster a 200,000-person rapid-reaction force that could be deployed within 10 to 30 days with even larger forces when fully implemented.

That would be a great start, though implementation is hardly certain since some NATO countries may not be up to participation in a large-scale, conventional war. After years of neglected defense investment, and a focus on expeditionary operations outside of Europe, many European nations are only starting to build more robust conventional warfare capabilities and reinvigorating their defense industries. In addition, European countries have been donating their ammunition and equipment to Ukraine, while replacement has been slow.

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0

When you ask why Russia would entertain the idea of attacking a NATO country, you’re asking the wrong question. Countries don’t have ideas. The correct question to ask is why Putin would entertain the idea, and the answer is then obvious. It’s to maintain and consolidate his hold on power. A conventional war is a great way to unify a country and suppress dissent, especially if you can portray it as an existential risk, and so war is good for Putin even though it’s bad for Russia. If it’s a long war that bogs down in static lines with fixed defences on both sides, then so much the better.

0

It's actually very likely in the sense that if Western countries were to send fighter jets in Ukraine to help Ukraine, then Russia would attack a NATO country by shooting them down, and if they are launched from a NATO country, then Russia would attack a NATO country directly.

Vladimir Putin says he has no intention of attacking any Nato members. Visiting an airbase in Torzhok, on the road between Moscow and St Petersburg, the Russian president told a group of pilots he didn’t plan to spark a war with any members of the western alliance which might bring in the US, with its massively greater defence budget.

“The idea that we will attack some other country – Poland, the Baltic States, and the Czechs are also being scared – is complete nonsense. It’s just drivel,” he said.

But he did leave himself a little wriggle room. Declaring that if Ukraine used F-16 fighter aircraft supplied by its western allies, “We will shoot them down,” – adding: “Of course, if they are used from airfields in third countries, they become legitimate targets for us, wherever they are.”

And, let’s not forget, he was rubbishing the idea that he intended to invade Ukraine until days before he dispatched Russia’s war machine across the border for its “special military exercise”.

https://theconversation.com/ukraine-recap-russia-wont-attack-nato-countries-says-putin-believe-it-or-not-226844

Because Putin himself said so, it's completely reasonable to believe that a situation like that could actually happen contrarily to what people may believe.

-2

Obama said that the USA should not arm Ukraine because then they would think that the Ukraine army could beat Russia.

https://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/11/us/politics/obama-said-to-resist-growing-pressure-from-all-sides-to-arm-ukraine.html

Then Trump (https://www.defensenews.com/congress/2019/09/25/what-you-need-to-know-about-the-us-aid-package-to-ukraine-that-trump-delayed/) and Biden armed Ukraine and then there was a war. Prior to the war, the US even wrote and published a document on how to destroy Russia via Ukraine.

https://www.rand.org/pubs/research_reports/RR3063.html

Imagine what would happen if Cuba allied itself with the greatest enemy of the USA.... no need to imagine, nearly nuclear war, armageddon.

The greatest threat to peace in Europe is the USA upping the ante again, putting in weapons into countries bordering Russia so that Russia feels threatened.

It should be possible to get along together. It might be worth exploring diplomacy instead of increased militarization.

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  • 9
    Neither Trump nor Biden were president in 2014, when the war began - how do you square your theories against that?
    – bharring
    Dec 29, 2023 at 19:02
  • 2
    Trump armed Ukraine? Really? That Trump? That Ukraine? Did you miss the impeachment shenanigans and the reasons for them? Dec 30, 2023 at 2:56
  • 2
    @bharring Don't you realise that there's continuity in the US State Departments, the CIA and other such organisations? One of the most senior figures behind US policy in Ukraine right now is Victoria Nuland. She was literally on Maidan Square all the way back in 2014 offering US government support to the people who overthrew the democratically elected president. Afterwards, she discussed with the US ambassador which politicians they should choose to run the country. The US has been arming Ukraine ever since. It's not about whoever happens to be president whichever year.
    – Dughall
    Dec 30, 2023 at 20:16
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    @ItalianPhilosophers4Monica Nobody is denying he was corrupt, Ukrainian politics has been immensely corrupt since independence and this didn't improve after Maidan. Presumably you don't condone violent revolution to eject corrupt but democratically politicians as a general democratic modus operandi. Regarding police shootings, agents provocateurs presumably from the nationalist extremists initiated the shooting both of the police and of protesters. Please see comments on the above answer for references.
    – Dughall
    Dec 31, 2023 at 23:08
  • 2
    @Jasen here foreign affairs calls it a coup jstor.org/stable/24483306 This question is closed but just as an FYI. Coup --> breakaway region --> Ukraine armed by USA including ultra nationalist azov neo nazi brigade --> OSCE register huge escalation in ceasefire violations --> war starts ten days later. The USA got what it wanted just Russia, a war with russia fought by other peoples, (now 400k Ukrainian's estimated to have died).
    – SeanJ
    Jan 2 at 14:02

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