The Baltics: should Britain be rushing to their defence?

Discussion in 'Current Affairs, News and Analysis' started by whitecity, Mar 26, 2014.

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  1. Got to disagree, the people at the front are committed, some of the people behind aren't because they think it can never happen, but if they're in it's a unified area. Start chucking people out and suddenly you realise you can't reinforce the front because non NATO nations are blocking the routes, or at least restricting you to easily interdicted corridors. Truly that also serve who sit and let us drive past
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  2. You're thinking of the Belgians, who pissed off early for weekends. Waffle eating tossers.
  3. Wind it in, mate. If the sovs cross the borders you will be happy for there help.
  4. Well during working hours, obviously ;)
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  5. If we're in a position where we need to reinforce 'the front' and we've kicked out Luxembourg for example for failing to meet the target, it's not a problem to bypass them by road, or air or obviously sea. Nations such as that have long relied on the buffer provided by Germany and now Poland and need to step up to the 2% mark. Failure to do so and I don't have a problem with them being removed. Strategically placed countries like Iceland are a bit more difficult imho.

    They don't need to provide standing armies, air forces, navies etc. just cough up the 2% to be spent on a useful bit of kit such as Luxembourg currently has the E3s.
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  6. The Baltic States are not really very big. Road transport may make more sense for the sort of thing we are talking about. As pointed out by someone, there is already a standard gauge rail line up to just past the border. Road transport from there or from Poland would be more flexible and present less of a single point of failure.

    If upgrades to the roads and bridges are necessary, the EU has a role to play there, and there are legitimate long term economic benefits to be had. On the other hand, saddling them with railways that chronically lose money would only take away resources that could be spent on things that have more direct benefits.

    I've just had a look on Google Maps, and the roads in the area don't look very impressive. Lithuania has a nice four lane highway running from just west of Vilnius (near the eastern border with Belarus) westward to the port of Klaipeda. I imagine that should speed the Russians quite nicely on their way to the coast should they start from Belarus. The best of the north-south highways on the other hand, would at best rate as secondary highways here, and the more typical ones as county roads.

    A good four lane divided highway from Warsaw to Kaunus, Riga, and then to Tallin would make a big difference to their transport network and tie them more closely into the mainstream of the EU market, having economic benefits as well. That is something the EU could be spending its money on to good effect while having secondary strategic benefits for defence as well.
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  7. I think the problem is that many EU NATO members don't think they have to spend more on defence because they don't think the Russians are a serious threat at this time, and that if they become a threat the US would bail them out.

    Here's some numbers for perspective. If we look at IMF GDP as measured by Parity Purchasing Power (PPP) to take cost of living (and hence cost of manpower) into account, we see the following (all figures in millions of USD):
    • EU: 20,745,308
    • Germany alone: 4,122,402
    • Russia: 3,866,330
    So the EU countries have more than 5 times the financial resources of Russia. Germany alone is larger.

    Let's look at population, just looking at the EU countries nearest Russia:
    List of countries and dependencies by population - Wikipedia

    • Germany: 82,800,000
    • Poland: 38,439,000
    • Romania: 19,760,000
    • Lithuania: 2,835,779
    • Latvia: 1,950,500
    • Estonia: 1,317,797
    • Total: 147,103,076
    • Russia: 146,838,993
    So it should be possible to put together an alliance subset within NATO that outmatches Russia in terms of money and manpower, and which should have the incentive of proximity to Russia to actually do something.

    However, the big hole in all this is that Germany doesn't seem to really care. With Germany, a defence is quite possible. Without Germany, it all falls apart. Forget about what Luxembourg or Iceland do or don't do, it's all quite pointless if Germany doesn't feel any sense of urgency.

    Given this, the Americans can perhaps be forgiven for wondering why they're beating their heads against the wall when the one country in the region which is the key to any realistic defence strategy is supremely disinterested in helping in any meaningful way.
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  8. NATO Secretary General’s Annual Report shows how the Alliance is adapting to face a more dangerous world
    A bit of spin from a week ago but even more relevant. The (already known) bad news:
    The better news:
    The big 'Movers and Shakers' for Europe e.g. France and Germany both have elections this year. Both have 'pro/friendly Russian' parties running. Neither Hollande (not running) or Merkel (currently not doing well) are likely to win.

    I doubt either are going to commit to anything at the moment other than the 2024 figure. At least not until their elections are over and they can deal with budgets which will not sway the electorate.
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2017
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  9. Thanks for the acknowledgment.

    On other threads you are quite renowned for your googlefu ;)

    However, perhaps a gander at google maps might serve you better. Furthermore, looking at the bio policies of the countries involved and then you would get a sense of why there is no big four lane highway. In addition, as anyone who has driven through Germany can tell you, the motorways are great until you hit two lorries, one beginning to overtake at the start of a hill; two lane motorways are not great. Ask the Austrians who are copying the British and adding a third lane to their motorways and as to lorries - they get railroaded at the borders, but passenger trains take precedence.

    Highspeed rail would open up the Baltics and allow scant airport capacity to be used for flights further than Warsaw and Berlin and with the Polish market having 44million people alone, it would provide an alternative tourist destination improving the Baltic economies.
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  10. You have to add to this that Italy also wants relaxed sanctions against Russia. However, I understand that all three Baltic States along with Poland will achieve the 2% spending commitment by next year. And that spending commitment includes armoured infantry, SPGs, signals, SAM and cyber improvements, excluding the Poles, 15-20K well armed forces with capable reserves.
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  11. And Greece re sanctions. Plus Bulgaria and Hungary aren't in favour. Also depends who wins in France ...

    Doesn't matter what's happened since, as soon as you say 'German rearmament' people look sideways at you. Maybe it's a Brit thing? :)
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  12. I recall in the early 1990s when the Franco-German Corps was established, it was explained that France wanted to embrace Germany - but not out of filial love but out of a desire to contain it.
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  13. It would appear that merkal has contained Germany even better.
  14. Exclusive: Tillerson plans to skip NATO meeting, visit Russia in April - sources
    Tillerson isn't going to the NATO meeting as he's meeting up with Trump and Xi. Bit of a storm in a teacup for me. China (N Korea, S China Sea etc.) are clearly far more important in the near future than NATO reiterating the same points and concerns which are currently less pressing. He's meeting with 27 of 28 tomorrow apparently anyway ref IS and Shannon will represent him at the NATO meeting:
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  15. German indifference to defence goes back to post re-unification. There was a massive reduction in forces because Germany had inherited the former East German forces, which were no longer needed and the Bundeswehr in its pre unification form was also no longer needed. There followed a further series of reductions and failure to maintain existing equipment. Now and only now have Merkel and von der Leyen agreed to step up defence spending, but it will still take a few years to reach the 2% level. There are however other parties admittedly not the big ones who cannot see the need to increase spending.
    Another problem is the fact that young people do not see the Bundeswehr as an attractive career option. Even at its current size the Bundeswehr is having significant problems getting enough people to join up.
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