Atlantic Future Forum - and NATO/Euro Atlantic defence

Yokel

LE
I am not sure that BREXIT has made any difference security wise. Apart from NATO there are things such as joint initiatives with France and other nations still in the EU. However, just the suggestion of Russian interference serves Moscow in that it weakens trust in democratic processes,

What better what to separate the North American and European members of NATO that to deny NATO the use of the Atlantic for reinforcement?

The Russians have built and are modernizing an integrated missile and subsurface and surface fleet, reinforced by airpower, to provide an expand zone of defense for the Kola Peninsula. They are also shaping more capabilities to ensure that the much reduced port structure, which could receive reinforcements from the U.S. or Canada, could be destroyed in times of severe conflict.

“If a crisis comes, the Russian navy is increasingly well placed and equipped to operate in the far North Atlantic to strike at vital ports, airfields, and command-and-control centers that are needed to bring in U.S. and NATO reinforcements coming across the North Atlantic. If those cross-Atlantic reinforcements were stopped or delayed in coming ashore, NATO and the United States could very well lose a confrontation with Russia in Europe’s east, far away from the shores of the Atlantic.”

The arrival of the new Russian capabilities – cruise missiles throughout the fleet with higher quality platforms to deliver missile strikes – has come with the procurement holiday and shift of focus by the U.S. and allies to the land wars in the Middle East. Much of the infrastructure built ashore to support maritime power in the North Atlantic has atrophied or simply disappeared.

“The network of bases and sensors that were established throughout the North Atlantic region and beyond to deal with the challenge of the Soviet navy was truly impressive, and by the end of the Cold War these nodes in NATO’s defense of the North Atlantic ranged from Bermuda in the west and Sigonella in Italy, far into the Mediterranean, and from Iceland and Norway in the north to the Azores in the south. Keflavik, however, stood out as a hub among the other spokes for North Atlantic ASW operations.”

This has been accompanied by a dramatic shrinkage of air and naval capabilities available to prosecute a Russian fleet as well.

In aggregate, twenty-five years after the end of the Cold War the naval picture in the North Atlantic had changed radically. European navies were smaller than ever before, but primed and ready to take on missions and threats far from their European waters. The U.S. naval presence in Europe had been more than halved and reoriented toward the Mediterranean and the turbulent Middle East. Sensor networks, basing infrastructure, and command structures intended for the Atlantic and Europe’s north had been reduced or scrapped during the same period. And ASW training was far from the minds of Western navies. Then, in 2014, great-power competition and the specter of future war returned to Europe and the North Atlantic.”

This state of affairs, the return of the Russian challenge, and the disappearance of the defense systems for the West to deal with a Russian challenge, has led to a a significant challenge for the West. On the one hand, the Nordics have re-focused on their direct defense, and are building out new capabilities to deal with a 21stcentury Russian challenge. And on the other hand, the NATO allies not present in continental Europe, the UK, Canada, and the United States, have refocused on the challenge and are starting the process of rebuilding the capabilities.


From here.

Several policy documents and the SAP have indicated an ambition to resurrect Russian military capabilities and maintain a leading world military. In particular, the maritime doctrine issued in 2015 and the 2017 state naval policy serve as critical enablers for the modernization of submarine capabilities. While the 2015 maritime doctrine emphasized two geographical areas (the Arctic and the Atlantic), the 2017 state naval policy stressed the importance of a permanent naval presence in both the Black Sea and the Mediterranean Sea as key priorities for the future Russian navy. This represents an evolution from the Soviet-era doctrine of global military dominance to a military capable of projecting its power globally. Nevertheless, those documents affirm ambitious qualitative plans for the navy’s development — in which submarines play the most critical role — as well as for the development of long-range high-precision conventional weapons that will significantly enhance Russian military capabilities.

In absolute terms, contemporary Russian military hardware is more modern and technologically more advanced than it was during the 1990s and 2000s as a direct result of the “New Look” modernization program launched in 2008. This ambition has translated into the development of new cutting-edge underwater capabilities, which can be seen on par with some Western powers. The Yasen-M SSGN class represents a significant step forward in acoustic signature and sub-systems and weapon integration. According to the U.S. Navy, the “Severodvinsk (Yasen-class) is the most capable Russian attack submarine ever built and leverages many of the technologies the Soviet Union invested in during the 1970s and 1980s.


From here.
 
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Yokel

LE
If I remember correctly, there are British troops in Estonia and Poland, RAF Typhoons regularly commit to NATO air policing and other aircraft perform other NATO missions, and we frequently commit forces at sea. We have signed to to the NATO Response force and committed a carrier capability and amphibious forces, and our nuclear deterrent is declared to NATO.

How do we square the increased NATO commitment in response to the potential Russian threat with the 'Indo-Pacific tilt' we keep hearing about, and cuts?
 
If I remember correctly, there are British troops in Estonia and Poland, RAF Typhoons regularly commit to NATO air policing and other aircraft perform other NATO missions, and we frequently commit forces at sea. We have signed to to the NATO Response force and committed a carrier capability and amphibious forces, and our nuclear deterrent is declared to NATO.

How do we square the increased NATO commitment in response to the potential Russian threat with the 'Indo-Pacific tilt' we keep hearing about, and cuts?
You increase funding or cut back on commitments.
 

Yokel

LE
I have amended the thread title to reflect the coverage of current defence and security issues. Also as a reminder of the importance of the freedom of using the Atlantic to the parties on either side of it, and as a reminder of alliances between Putin's Moscow, Xi's Beijing, and Tehran.
 
I am not sure that BREXIT has made any difference security wise. Apart from NATO there are things such as joint initiatives with France and other nations still in the EU. However, just the suggestion of Russian interference serves Moscow in that it weakens trust in democratic processes,

What better what to separate the North American and European members of NATO that to deny NATO the use of the Atlantic for reinforcement?

The Russians have built and are modernizing an integrated missile and subsurface and surface fleet, reinforced by airpower, to provide an expand zone of defense for the Kola Peninsula. They are also shaping more capabilities to ensure that the much reduced port structure, which could receive reinforcements from the U.S. or Canada, could be destroyed in times of severe conflict.

“If a crisis comes, the Russian navy is increasingly well placed and equipped to operate in the far North Atlantic to strike at vital ports, airfields, and command-and-control centers that are needed to bring in U.S. and NATO reinforcements coming across the North Atlantic. If those cross-Atlantic reinforcements were stopped or delayed in coming ashore, NATO and the United States could very well lose a confrontation with Russia in Europe’s east, far away from the shores of the Atlantic.”

The arrival of the new Russian capabilities – cruise missiles throughout the fleet with higher quality platforms to deliver missile strikes – has come with the procurement holiday and shift of focus by the U.S. and allies to the land wars in the Middle East. Much of the infrastructure built ashore to support maritime power in the North Atlantic has atrophied or simply disappeared.

“The network of bases and sensors that were established throughout the North Atlantic region and beyond to deal with the challenge of the Soviet navy was truly impressive, and by the end of the Cold War these nodes in NATO’s defense of the North Atlantic ranged from Bermuda in the west and Sigonella in Italy, far into the Mediterranean, and from Iceland and Norway in the north to the Azores in the south. Keflavik, however, stood out as a hub among the other spokes for North Atlantic ASW operations.”

This has been accompanied by a dramatic shrinkage of air and naval capabilities available to prosecute a Russian fleet as well.

In aggregate, twenty-five years after the end of the Cold War the naval picture in the North Atlantic had changed radically. European navies were smaller than ever before, but primed and ready to take on missions and threats far from their European waters. The U.S. naval presence in Europe had been more than halved and reoriented toward the Mediterranean and the turbulent Middle East. Sensor networks, basing infrastructure, and command structures intended for the Atlantic and Europe’s north had been reduced or scrapped during the same period. And ASW training was far from the minds of Western navies. Then, in 2014, great-power competition and the specter of future war returned to Europe and the North Atlantic.”

This state of affairs, the return of the Russian challenge, and the disappearance of the defense systems for the West to deal with a Russian challenge, has led to a a significant challenge for the West. On the one hand, the Nordics have re-focused on their direct defense, and are building out new capabilities to deal with a 21stcentury Russian challenge. And on the other hand, the NATO allies not present in continental Europe, the UK, Canada, and the United States, have refocused on the challenge and are starting the process of rebuilding the capabilities.


From here.

Several policy documents and the SAP have indicated an ambition to resurrect Russian military capabilities and maintain a leading world military. In particular, the maritime doctrine issued in 2015 and the 2017 state naval policy serve as critical enablers for the modernization of submarine capabilities. While the 2015 maritime doctrine emphasized two geographical areas (the Arctic and the Atlantic), the 2017 state naval policy stressed the importance of a permanent naval presence in both the Black Sea and the Mediterranean Sea as key priorities for the future Russian navy. This represents an evolution from the Soviet-era doctrine of global military dominance to a military capable of projecting its power globally. Nevertheless, those documents affirm ambitious qualitative plans for the navy’s development — in which submarines play the most critical role — as well as for the development of long-range high-precision conventional weapons that will significantly enhance Russian military capabilities.

In absolute terms, contemporary Russian military hardware is more modern and technologically more advanced than it was during the 1990s and 2000s as a direct result of the “New Look” modernization program launched in 2008. This ambition has translated into the development of new cutting-edge underwater capabilities, which can be seen on par with some Western powers. The Yasen-M SSGN class represents a significant step forward in acoustic signature and sub-systems and weapon integration. According to the U.S. Navy, the “Severodvinsk (Yasen-class) is the most capable Russian attack submarine ever built and leverages many of the technologies the Soviet Union invested in during the 1970s and 1980s.


From here.
If the US were to send part of their army to Europe, I'm pretty sure they could scrape together enough frigates, submarines, and aircraft to escort them all the way across the Atlantic.

More to the point however, I can't honestly see how reinforcements from the US would arrive in Europe in enough quantity to make any significant difference in the outcome of a war with Russia. The US army is much smaller than it once was, and they have a lot more places to worry about than just Europe. They won't risk sending more of their army than they can afford to lose. What the Americans can send to Europe won't be enough to make a difference in the outcome if continental European NATO / EU Europe do not already have a powerful military force of their own in place and ready to fight.

As I've said multiple times before, continental NATO / EU Europe have an overwhelming superiority over Russia in terms of manpower, money, and technology. If "Europe" can't translate that into overwhelming military superiority over Russia, then there is nothing the Americans can realistically be expected to do to fix that.

The solution to Europe's defence begins and ends in Berlin and Brussels.
 
If I remember correctly, there are British troops in Estonia and Poland, RAF Typhoons regularly commit to NATO air policing and other aircraft perform other NATO missions, and we frequently commit forces at sea. We have signed to to the NATO Response force and committed a carrier capability and amphibious forces, and our nuclear deterrent is declared to NATO.

How do we square the increased NATO commitment in response to the potential Russian threat with the 'Indo-Pacific tilt' we keep hearing about, and cuts?
The UK and Canadian deployments to the Baltics are for the same reason as the Canadian garrison in Hong Kong during WWII and would share the same fate in the event of an actual war with Russia. They're sacrificial lambs sent to make a diplomatic statement and show solidarity with allies but aren't expected to actually stop the Russians or even slow them down significantly.

That the UK are focusing more building ties with the Far East (which doesn't mean antagonising China unnecessarily) shows where UK priorities are now.
 

Yokel

LE
So what of NATO's four thirties plan? Within thirty days, NATO will be able to deploy thirty major warships, thirty squadrons of combat aircraft, and thirty mechanised infantry battalions - and supporting assets in all three environments. Can European NATO mount enough armour and fast air without reinforcement?

I hope that the NATO forces in Poland and the Baltic States are a tripwire. They would force an aggressor to use force and trigger reinforcement.
 
So what of NATO's four thirties plan? Within thirty days, NATO will be able to deploy thirty major warships, thirty squadrons of combat aircraft, and thirty mechanised infantry battalions - and supporting assets in all three environments. Can European NATO mount enough armour and fast air without reinforcement?

I hope that the NATO forces in Poland and the Baltic States are a tripwire. They would force an aggressor to use force and trigger reinforcement.
Within 30 days the Russians will either be defeated by continental NATO / EU Europe armies or they will be at the eastern shore of the North Sea.

The most that the UK and US can hope to do in the latter case is to mount another successful Dunkirk operation.
 

Yokel

LE
Within 30 days the Russians will either be defeated by continental NATO / EU Europe armies or they will be at the eastern shore of the North Sea.

The most that the UK and US can hope to do in the latter case is to mount another successful Dunkirk operation.

The point is that the thirty days start when the go ahead is given (by the North Atlantic Council?) to start reinforcing, which would happen before a crisis turned kinetic. The forward deployed forces are there to collect intelligence as well as deter.

Being able to reinforce in a timely fashion is part of deterrence - just as it was during the Cold War.
 
The point is that the thirty days start when the go ahead is given (by the North Atlantic Council?) to start reinforcing, which would happen before a crisis turned kinetic. The forward deployed forces are there to collect intelligence as well as deter.

Being able to reinforce in a timely fashion is part of deterrence - just as it was during the Cold War.
I'll leave aside the question of whether the Russians would be so cooperative as to give "Europe" 30 days notice and just reiterate that the point in question is that the Americans might "reinforce", but if there isn't much there to reinforce in the first place what the Americans might send over after 30 days isn't going to make much difference.

The Americans might be willing to help, but they're not going to just throw their soldiers away for no reason. If "Europe" don't have a solid defence in place, a defence that they are more than capable of providing on their own, I can quite easily imagine a US president and Senate deciding that they aren't going to sacrifice American lives to no purpose on behalf of people who were unwilling to help themselves.

I'll go back to the point that I made earlier. Continental NATO / EU Europe have a massive margin of superiority over Russia in terms of manpower, money, and technology. If "Europe" cannot translate that into a military advantage then there is nothing that the Americans can realistically do to change the outcome without sacrificing themselves by initiating a nuclear war, something that I am quite certain they would not do on behalf of "Europe".
 
If the US were to send part of their army to Europe, I'm pretty sure they could scrape together enough frigates, submarines, and aircraft to escort them all the way across the Atlantic.

More to the point however, I can't honestly see how reinforcements from the US would arrive in Europe in enough quantity to make any significant difference in the outcome of a war with Russia. The US army is much smaller than it once was, and they have a lot more places to worry about than just Europe. They won't risk sending more of their army than they can afford to lose. What the Americans can send to Europe won't be enough to make a difference in the outcome if continental European NATO / EU Europe do not already have a powerful military force of their own in place and ready to fight.

As I've said multiple times before, continental NATO / EU Europe have an overwhelming superiority over Russia in terms of manpower, money, and technology. If "Europe" can't translate that into overwhelming military superiority over Russia, then there is nothing the Americans can realistically be expected to do to fix that.

The solution to Europe's defence begins and ends in Berlin and Brussels.

Some rewarding from an American perspective.
 

Yokel

LE

A very interesting document - although not exactly light reading. I see that it refers to 'lift assets' required for a Baltic scenario, including shipping.

Appendix 3 (assumptions) says:

• The risk involved in any US-Russian conflict is so great that Russia would never conduct a sudden surprise attack based solely on the conditions of US/NATO military vulnerability. Therefore, any conflict would be preceded by a crisis period of days, weeks, or months of heightened political tensions that would buy some time for focused intelligence gathering and military preparations.

Not totally dissimilar to Fire and Ice: A New Maritime Strategy for NATO's Northern Flank
 

Yokel

LE
Looking at the Fire and Ice paper:

The chapter entitled The Modern Strategic Context starts:

Just as the beginning of the Berlin Blockade in 1948 ended any realistic hope that a post-war accommodation could be met with the Soviet Union, the 2014 decision by Russia to seize the Crimean Peninsula and facilitate a violent rebellion in the east of Ukraine erased almost any prospect of positive relations between Moscow and the West for however long the current Kremlin leadership remains in power. The subsequent 2015 Russian intervention in Syria and 2016 interference in the US presidential election has only cemented this position further. While previous episodes including cyber-attacks, the 2008 conflict between Russia and Georgia, various spy scandals, document leaks, missile defence, and the Kremlin’s crackdown on protesters following the 2011 elections – worsened the situation, it was the war in Ukraine that acted as the decisive break.

These increasingly strained relations between Moscow and the US-led West have run in parallel to a major redevelopment of the Russian Armed Forces. Although still far from the juggernaut of the USSR’s military, the end result has been the development of a force that is well-suited towards the two leading priorities of the Kremlin – domestic regime survival, and the linked issue of ensuring Russia is seen as a global player


Moving on the the chapter entitled The Conflict Scenario, there is a basic scenario:

In spring 2024, protests erupt in Russia following the tainted election of Vladimir Putin’s anointed successor. National Guard forces manage to prevent activists occupying some of the most sensitive areas around Moscow, but opposition action continues. The Kremlin believes that the popular protests are being orchestrated by the West.

Faced with a continuing crisis, the authorities have three choices: a violent crackdown, drastic reform, or externalising the problem with diversionary foreign action. The use of extreme force against protestors in isolation – the ‘Tiananmen Square option’ – is judged to run the risk of provoking defections from the security forces and the certain imposition of devastating sanctions against Russia that it has little ability to counter. Serious reform is out of the question, as only a wholesale dismantling and replacement of the current leadership would be able to produce the desired effect – something unacceptable to the ruling elite.

It is therefore concluded that a catch-all solution to both internal and external pressure is required, and a controlled conflict with NATO is judged to be the best – or rather least worst – option. This is a contingency the Russian government has spent many years laying the groundwork for amongst the public.

As Russian scholar Lilia Shevtosva highlighted in her appraisal of Moscow’s attitude towards the West in 2010:

The Russian campaign to intimidate the West, backed up with “light artillery” [propaganda] on television, has yet another goal: to lay the groundwork for a monumental distraction if the domestic situation in Russia begins to deteriorate rapidly. The militaristic rhetoric, symbolism and pageantry… are clearly intended to create an enemy that Russia will bravely confront when the Kremlin finds itself unable to pull the country out of a future crisis.

The targets of this war are Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. These countries have been selected as they are judged to provide the optimal path for securing a rapid and sustainable victory against NATO forces.

Domestically, the primary aim of the offensive is to undercut the protests by generating a ‘rally around the flag’ effect amongst Russia’s population, and provide an environment within which the security forces would be better able to execute an internal clampdown without fragmenting. At the international level, it is designed to act as asymmetric pushback against what Moscow perceives to be the West’s meddling in its internal affairs; undermine (and ideally cripple) NATO by demonstrating that the Alliance lacks the resolve to defend its members; and secure a favourable post war negotiating position for Russia. As has occurred in other similar conflicts, the Russian attack will be triggered by a series of false flag strikes against Moscow’s interests.

The Kremlin is under no illusions about the reality of the conflict on which it is embarking. At a minimum, the immediate result will be serious sanctions that will only exacerbate Russia’s economic problems. It is also aware that any increase generated in support for the government could be difficult to sustain, as was the case following the Crimea annexation. However, it is judged that with the leverage provided by the occupation of three NATO and EU members, Russia would be better placed to negotiate away sanctions than it would be in the aftermath of a ‘crackdown only’ policy. In the context of the possible limited duration of increased public support, it is concluded that even a window of a few months would be sufficient to suppress the opposition for the foreseeable future and secure the lifting of the expected economic blockade.
 
A very interesting document - although not exactly light reading. I see that it refers to 'lift assets' required for a Baltic scenario, including shipping.

Appendix 3 (assumptions) says:

• The risk involved in any US-Russian conflict is so great that Russia would never conduct a sudden surprise attack based solely on the conditions of US/NATO military vulnerability. Therefore, any conflict would be preceded by a crisis period of days, weeks, or months of heightened political tensions that would buy some time for focused intelligence gathering and military preparations.

Not totally dissimilar to Fire and Ice: A New Maritime Strategy for NATO's Northern Flank
And if that assumption about what the view from Moscow is and what the then current president in the US thinks is the best way to handle the crisis turns out to be wrong, the whole defence plan falls flat.

Looking at the Fire and Ice paper:

The chapter entitled The Modern Strategic Context starts:

Just as the beginning of the Berlin Blockade in 1948 ended any realistic hope that a post-war accommodation could be met with the Soviet Union, the 2014 decision by Russia to seize the Crimean Peninsula and facilitate a violent rebellion in the east of Ukraine erased almost any prospect of positive relations between Moscow and the West for however long the current Kremlin leadership remains in power. The subsequent 2015 Russian intervention in Syria and 2016 interference in the US presidential election has only cemented this position further. While previous episodes including cyber-attacks, the 2008 conflict between Russia and Georgia, various spy scandals, document leaks, missile defence, and the Kremlin’s crackdown on protesters following the 2011 elections – worsened the situation, it was the war in Ukraine that acted as the decisive break.

These increasingly strained relations between Moscow and the US-led West have run in parallel to a major redevelopment of the Russian Armed Forces. Although still far from the juggernaut of the USSR’s military, the end result has been the development of a force that is well-suited towards the two leading priorities of the Kremlin – domestic regime survival, and the linked issue of ensuring Russia is seen as a global player


Moving on the the chapter entitled The Conflict Scenario, there is a basic scenario:

In spring 2024, protests erupt in Russia following the tainted election of Vladimir Putin’s anointed successor. National Guard forces manage to prevent activists occupying some of the most sensitive areas around Moscow, but opposition action continues. The Kremlin believes that the popular protests are being orchestrated by the West.

Faced with a continuing crisis, the authorities have three choices: a violent crackdown, drastic reform, or externalising the problem with diversionary foreign action. The use of extreme force against protestors in isolation – the ‘Tiananmen Square option’ – is judged to run the risk of provoking defections from the security forces and the certain imposition of devastating sanctions against Russia that it has little ability to counter. Serious reform is out of the question, as only a wholesale dismantling and replacement of the current leadership would be able to produce the desired effect – something unacceptable to the ruling elite.

It is therefore concluded that a catch-all solution to both internal and external pressure is required, and a controlled conflict with NATO is judged to be the best – or rather least worst – option. This is a contingency the Russian government has spent many years laying the groundwork for amongst the public.

As Russian scholar Lilia Shevtosva highlighted in her appraisal of Moscow’s attitude towards the West in 2010:

The Russian campaign to intimidate the West, backed up with “light artillery” [propaganda] on television, has yet another goal: to lay the groundwork for a monumental distraction if the domestic situation in Russia begins to deteriorate rapidly. The militaristic rhetoric, symbolism and pageantry… are clearly intended to create an enemy that Russia will bravely confront when the Kremlin finds itself unable to pull the country out of a future crisis.

The targets of this war are Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. These countries have been selected as they are judged to provide the optimal path for securing a rapid and sustainable victory against NATO forces.

Domestically, the primary aim of the offensive is to undercut the protests by generating a ‘rally around the flag’ effect amongst Russia’s population, and provide an environment within which the security forces would be better able to execute an internal clampdown without fragmenting. At the international level, it is designed to act as asymmetric pushback against what Moscow perceives to be the West’s meddling in its internal affairs; undermine (and ideally cripple) NATO by demonstrating that the Alliance lacks the resolve to defend its members; and secure a favourable post war negotiating position for Russia. As has occurred in other similar conflicts, the Russian attack will be triggered by a series of false flag strikes against Moscow’s interests.

The Kremlin is under no illusions about the reality of the conflict on which it is embarking. At a minimum, the immediate result will be serious sanctions that will only exacerbate Russia’s economic problems. It is also aware that any increase generated in support for the government could be difficult to sustain, as was the case following the Crimea annexation. However, it is judged that with the leverage provided by the occupation of three NATO and EU members, Russia would be better placed to negotiate away sanctions than it would be in the aftermath of a ‘crackdown only’ policy. In the context of the possible limited duration of increased public support, it is concluded that even a window of a few months would be sufficient to suppress the opposition for the foreseeable future and secure the lifting of the expected economic blockade.

Let me offer my own scenario.
  • The Americans do something in the Caucasus or Kazakhstan which winds the Russians up.
  • The Russians put their army on high alert.
  • The Americans react with "Oops, we overplayed our hand on this one. We can't afford a war with Russia right now, not while we've got everything we could scrape together in east Asia in order to confront China over the South China Sea crisis. Let's try to de-escalate the Russia situation for now until the east Asia situation quiets down and then come back to it later."
  • Meanwhile in Moscow the view is "If we do nothing the Americans and Europeans will squeeze us with sanctions again. We've got to break the deadlock and get American influence out of Europe. We'll never get a better chance than now. The Americans will be able to do f*ck all about anything in Europe unless they back down completely in the face of the Chinese, and they aren't about to do that. There's nothing that can stop us between us and Berlin at the moment. Let's go for it."
  • The Russian army heads west, reaches Berlin, and park their tanks in front of the parliament building and say "let's negotiate".
  • Berlin signs a peace and economic cooperation treaty with Moscow, and the EU rubber stamp it in Brussels. NATO headquarters' and Washington's involvement is limited to reading about it in the newspaper.
  • All of Europe breath a sigh of relief at worse being averted.
  • The treaty forms an economic union between the EU and Russia, with Russia having free access to EU markets and visa versa. All sanctions and other unfriendly measures are dissolved in both directions. Senior heads of government are to meet regularly to discuss closer cooperation.
  • NATO still exists on paper, but becomes irrelevant in practice.
  • Etc.

You can probably pick holes in the above scenario, but the point is that it is at least as plausible as the assumption of "we'll have plenty of notice and won't have anything else going on in the world at the same time to tie us up."

The only thing that can really guaranty continental Europe's security is them having their own army which can stop the Russians in their tracks all on their own at any time. As I've said repeatedly, continental EU Europe have the ability to build such an army, provided they had the will to do so.
 
And if that assumption about what the view from Moscow is and what the then current president in the US thinks is the best way to handle the crisis turns out to be wrong, the whole defence plan falls flat.



Let me offer my own scenario.
  • The Americans do something in the Caucasus or Kazakhstan which winds the Russians up.
  • The Russians put their army on high alert.
  • The Americans react with "Oops, we overplayed our hand on this one. We can't afford a war with Russia right now, not while we've got everything we could scrape together in east Asia in order to confront China over the South China Sea crisis. Let's try to de-escalate the Russia situation for now until the east Asia situation quiets down and then come back to it later."
  • Meanwhile in Moscow the view is "If we do nothing the Americans and Europeans will squeeze us with sanctions again. We've got to break the deadlock and get American influence out of Europe. We'll never get a better chance than now. The Americans will be able to do f*ck all about anything in Europe unless they back down completely in the face of the Chinese, and they aren't about to do that. There's nothing that can stop us between us and Berlin at the moment. Let's go for it."
  • The Russian army heads west, reaches Berlin, and park their tanks in front of the parliament building and say "let's negotiate".
  • Berlin signs a peace and economic cooperation treaty with Moscow, and the EU rubber stamp it in Brussels. NATO headquarters' and Washington's involvement is limited to reading about it in the newspaper.
  • All of Europe breath a sigh of relief at worse being averted.
  • The treaty forms an economic union between the EU and Russia, with Russia having free access to EU markets and visa versa. All sanctions and other unfriendly measures are dissolved in both directions. Senior heads of government are to meet regularly to discuss closer cooperation.
  • NATO still exists on paper, but becomes irrelevant in practice.
  • Etc.

You can probably pick holes in the above scenario, but the point is that it is at least as plausible as the assumption of "we'll have plenty of notice and won't have anything else going on in the world at the same time to tie us up."

The only thing that can really guaranty continental Europe's security is them having their own army which can stop the Russians in their tracks all on their own at any time. As I've said repeatedly, continental EU Europe have the ability to build such an army, provided they had the will to do so.
So how are the Russians going to avoid V Corps by chance?
 

Yokel

LE
The EU cannot defend Europe alone - Stoltenberg

It is not only about money. It is also about geography. Iceland and Norway in the North are gateways to the Arctic. Turkey in the south borders Syria and Iraq. And in the west, the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom link together both sides of the Atlantic. All of these countries are critical for the defence of Europe.

And most of all, it is about politics. Any attempt to divide Europe from North America will weaken NATO. But it will also divide Europe.
Only a strong NATO can keep our almost one billion people safe in a more dangerous world. So I do not believe in Europe alone. Or North America alone. I believe in Europe and North America together. In NATO. In strategic solidarity.
 
Let me offer my own scenario.
  • The Americans do something in the Caucasus or Kazakhstan which winds the Russians up.
  • The Russians put their army on high alert.
  • The Americans react with "Oops, we overplayed our hand on this one. We can't afford a war with Russia right now, not while we've got everything we could scrape together in east Asia in order to confront China over the South China Sea crisis. Let's try to de-escalate the Russia situation for now until the east Asia situation quiets down and then come back to it later."
  • Meanwhile in Moscow the view is "If we do nothing the Americans and Europeans will squeeze us with sanctions again. We've got to break the deadlock and get American influence out of Europe. We'll never get a better chance than now. The Americans will be able to do f*ck all about anything in Europe unless they back down completely in the face of the Chinese, and they aren't about to do that. There's nothing that can stop us between us and Berlin at the moment. Let's go for it."
  • The Russian army heads west, reaches Berlin, and park their tanks in front of the parliament building and say "let's negotiate".
  • Berlin signs a peace and economic cooperation treaty with Moscow, and the EU rubber stamp it in Brussels. NATO headquarters' and Washington's involvement is limited to reading about it in the newspaper.
  • All of Europe breath a sigh of relief at worse being averted.
  • The treaty forms an economic union between the EU and Russia, with Russia having free access to EU markets and visa versa. All sanctions and other unfriendly measures are dissolved in both directions. Senior heads of government are to meet regularly to discuss closer cooperation.
  • NATO still exists on paper, but becomes irrelevant in practice.
  • Etc.

Into a Baltic state or two, maybe, bur certainly not into Germany, that would raise the stakes far too high. In honesty I am not even convinced that the Baltics are seriously under threat given EU and NATO memberships.

The post-Putin scenario is the most 'interesting'. For all of his faults he knows where his bread is buttered and he hasn't spent years enriching himself just to throw it all away in a catastrophic war. Not only that but the west know exactly what they are dealing with. The biggest danger is whoever comes after him and may not be as predictable.
 
Into a Baltic state or two, maybe, bur certainly not into Germany, that would raise the stakes far too high. In honesty I am not even convinced that the Baltics are seriously under threat given EU and NATO memberships.
Not necessarily. From the Russian perspective the problem with invading the Baltics and then stopping there is that it doesn't provide an endpoint to the situation. The West wouldn't forgive it, and Russia would then be isolated almost indefinitely and they aren't really in a position to sustain a self-contained economy.

Get to Berlin though and a settlement can be imposed on Europe which avoids Russia being isolated and which alters the landscape completely. It's more challenging to carry out but it actually provides a viable endpoint. The Americans wouldn't like it, but they could be ignored if they don't have support in continental Europe for doing anything about it.

The post-Putin scenario is the most 'interesting'. For all of his faults he knows where his bread is buttered and he hasn't spent years enriching himself just to throw it all away in a catastrophic war. Not only that but the west know exactly what they are dealing with. The biggest danger is whoever comes after him and may not be as predictable.
Putin is clever enough to know what he can get away with. His successor is unlikely to be as clever as Putin but may still have the same ambitions and so could end up backing himself into a corner that has no peaceful way out.
 

jrwlynch

LE
Book Reviewer
Get to Berlin though and a settlement can be imposed on Europe which avoids Russia being isolated and which alters the landscape completely. It's more challenging to carry out but it actually provides a viable endpoint. The Americans wouldn't like it, but they could be ignored if they don't have support in continental Europe for doing anything about it.

It's an interesting scenario, one I don't buy into easily... which makes it a good case to look at properly rather than dismiss as "too scary, too difficult to solve if it happens, so it won't happen" (which we're woefully prone to).

It does fit a "Most Dangerous" COA nicely, though...

Putin is clever enough to know what he can get away with. His successor is unlikely to be as clever as Putin but may still have the same ambitions and so could end up backing himself into a corner that has no peaceful way out.

Uncle Vova's always been very good at making sure that before he takes a step forward, he's got paths sideways and backwards mapped out in case he decides he's overdone it.
 

Yokel

LE
Before implementing any cuts to forces, given our public commitment to increasing our NATO contributions - will our politicians consult with the US and other allies because of the potential impact on the alliance?

In the 1970s they did listen to SACLANT et al and take steps to mitigate against the loss of capabilities as ships were retired early or without replacement.

See this old document - The Defence Review - consultation with allies (1975)

10. As regards the Atlantic and Channel Commands, I am glad to be able to say that we are ready to convert HERMES to the CVS role two years earlier than we planned to do i.e. in 1976 instead of 1978; to earmark the Royal Fleet Auxiliary ENGADINE for assignment to CINCCHAN; and to earmark some additional aircraft for assignment to SACLANT in the visual reconnaissance role.

The precise accomplishment of these objectives will have to be a matter for further consultation.
 
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