The Baltics: should Britain be rushing to their defence?

Say what you like about Ivan, he's a calculating sod, and the sums aren't working for him just yet.
The question isn't whether the long-term calculus works in their favour. It's whether Vlad and cronies have to cope with growing internal dissent (say, they steal too much from the economy, and really f*** things up for the poor sods at the bottom). If the choice is "do something, or lose power", then...

...if the short-term calculation is "we really, really need a distraction" (say, like the Junta in late 1981); or "what this country needs is a short, victorious, war" (the Tsar's advisers in 1904) then things might well get rather sporty.

The problem is whether that short term calculation is done on realistic thinking, or whether it's based around what Putin et al want to hear from their placemen. See such bright ideas as "just drive a Motor Rifle Regiment into the city centre, and the rebels will take the hint" (Groznyy in the First Chechen War) or "all we need is another Airborne Regiment, and we can sort this all out" (Kabul in 1979).

Throw the match onto the bonfire when a Baltic General who trained up under the USSR, catches the GRU strategic recce types sneaking around his HQ while watching the Russian forward elements conducting "training exercises" just over the border. That whole "oops, I'd better court-martial those BM-21 battery commanders" works both ways...
 
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That land corridor to Crimea is still missing hence the bridge.

Method in Vlads method

A running sore in the Ukraine stops any EU fantasies of inviting the Ukraine to join, and is kryptonite to any NATO fantasies of further eastward expansion.

And their kit got better, much better, as did the users. Syria was their 'GWI' they learned a lot, they have now a very competent Air Force and their irregular forces are now well combat experienced. Their Kalibar cruise missile salvos into Syria from ships in the Caspian Sea made everyone sit up and take note. The Message wasn't 'we can hit Syra', it was 'We can hit western targets from within our safe bastions'

And armour?
While we've been w***king about trying to get a MICV into service with its 40mm Wundergat, they've designed, tested and put into production an entire new range of very swish armoured vehicles. And they have rather dastardly upped their game mid step and are going to fit a 57mm gat to their MICVs - oh dear, AJAX is outgunned out of the gate

The Russians are learning and they've learned fast.
We would be facing a vastly more competent adversary than even 5 years ago.
 
Let me see, going toe to toe with a peer adversary, .
A peer adversary that studies only keeps enough forces in the Baltic to make the point, but are small enough they can be written off if the politicians deem it necessary to avoid an all out war

having to tie down troops fighting a ragged counter insurgency war in the Baltic while a facing mounting casualties .
You will see the Baltics depopulate en masse if Ivan takes a day trip to the coast.
A. cynical Ivan might even leave the escape routes south clear to enhance the exodus

and possible the PRC seeing an opportune moment to wanting bits of old China back,.
China has a great deal going in Siberia with Russia on mineral and forestry extraction. All win for them as it is.

loss of trade....
Yes, I noticed the EU has stopped buying huge amounts of Russian gas, oil and minerals

the sums aren't working for him just yet.
Well, Trump thinks they are, thats why he is furious at the EU spending the square root of feck all on defence, while pumping Billions monthly into the Russian Economy
 
Method in Vlads method

A running sore in the Ukraine stops any EU fantasies of inviting the Ukraine to join, and is kryptonite to any NATO fantasies of further eastward expansion.
Excellent method. Build a multi million pound bridge when Mariupol was what they wanted. Meanwhile, Cargo 200 was so bad they made it a state secret.
And their kit got better, much better, as did the users. Syria was their 'GWI' they learned a lot, they have now a very competent Air Force and their irregular forces are now well combat experienced. Their Kalibar cruise missile salvos into Syria from ships in the Caspian Sea made everyone sit up and take note. The Message wasn't 'we can hit Syra', it was 'We can hit western targets from within our safe bastions'
Their ‘irregulars’ (contract soldiers) were spanked by the US. Same as any Iranian sponsored militia trying to get to the US controlled area. They’ve had massive casualties compared to what they were doing, made (literally) a song and dance about capturing Palmyra and blanked it when IS took it back meaning the coalition had to destroy the lost kit.
And armour?
While we've been w***king about trying to get a MICV into service with its 40mm Wundergat, they've designed, tested and put into production an entire new range of very swish armoured vehicles. And they have rather dastardly upped their game mid step and are going to fit a 57mm gat to their MICVs - oh dear, AJAX is outgunned out of the gate
They’re developing all sorts. Doesn’t mean it works and is any good. Those T90s were still brewed up by atgm
The Russians are learning and they've learned fast.
We would be facing a vastly more competent adversary than even 5 years ago.
None of which addresses the points you made and I responded to. As is usual
 
A peer adversary that studies only keeps enough forces in the Baltic to make the point, but are small enough they can be written off if the politicians deem it necessary to avoid an all out war



You will see the Baltics depopulate en masse if Ivan takes a day trip to the coast.
A. cynical Ivan might even leave the escape routes south clear to enhance the exodus



China has a great deal going in Siberia with Russia on mineral and forestry extraction. All win for them as it is.



Yes, I noticed the EU has stopped buying huge amounts of Russian gas, oil and minerals



Well, Trump thinks they are, thats why he is furious at the EU spending the square root of feck all on defence, while pumping Billions monthly into the Russian Economy

The Russians will quite simply loose the European economy pumping billions, you allege, into their economy the moment they roll into NATO territory.
They will have an expensive war with no markets left and with little left to pay for the coming conflict with the PRC. Which incidentally will have achieved total hegemony in the Asia Pacific region without firing a shot. A drained, over extended Russia, with smoking holes where major cities were now facing the remaining superpower with more manpower than survives in Russia . The PRC will now ensure the border states understand that the direction to kowtow to is Peking, and Russia will follow suit or face oblivion.
They aren't stupid.
 
While we've been w***king about trying to get a MICV into service with its 40mm Wundergat, they've designed, tested and put into production an entire new range of very swish armoured vehicles.
Really? How many have they produced so far? Oh yes, that would be exactly nine (link). Of 132, enough for a Regiment.

Remember what happened in the 1970s when everyone got a close look at the last bogeyman, the BMP? The magical IFV that had NATO rushing to develop an equivalent? Oh yes, "Kitkat wrapper round an engine block", as our PSI described it after shooting them up on GRANBY. The design genius that led to fuel tanks in the back doors, and another running under the seats in the rear.

You've made the fatal mistake of assuming that the manufacturer's brochure or the fanboi's Top Trumps cards reflect reality. If that were the case, the Arjun tank would sweep all before it, the Ka-52 would have us quaking in our boots, the IOWA class would be the ne plus ultra of NGFS, and the A-10 is an indestructible, irreplaceable, and peerless source of CAS...
 

jrwlynch

LE
Book Reviewer
You've made the fatal mistake of assuming that the manufacturer's brochure or the fanboi's Top Trumps cards reflect reality. If that were the case, the Arjun tank would sweep all before it, the Ka-52 would have us quaking in our boots, the IOWA class would be the ne plus ultra of NGFS, and the A-10 is an indestructible, irreplaceable, and peerless source of CAS...
I await news of the Red Banner Northern Fleet fielding an armada of affordable yet invincible concrete foists... or sightings of the radar-invisible, Mach 6 MiG-31...

More seriously, note how the Russians have gone through the T-80 (with a diversion to re-engine it to diesel after going all 'want one of those!' with gas turbines), then the T-90, then the T-95 and assorted other new-builds and upgrades, before wheeling the T-14 Armata out to ceremonially break down on parade as they announced plans to build 2,000 by 2020... I mean, 200 by 2020... I mean, 20, eventually... while actually they're going back to (capable, dangerous, but known and understood) T-72s for their armour units.

They're good at technology demonstrators and prototypes. What they find harder, is actually getting from there to long production runs and fielded capability.
 
I await news of the Red Banner Northern Fleet fielding an armada of affordable yet invincible concrete foists... or sightings of the radar-invisible, Mach 6 MiG-31...

More seriously, note how the Russians have gone through the T-80 (with a diversion to re-engine it to diesel after going all 'want one of those!' with gas turbines), then the T-90, then the T-95 and assorted other new-builds and upgrades, before wheeling the T-14 Armata out to ceremonially break down on parade as they announced plans to build 2,000 by 2020... I mean, 200 by 2020... I mean, 20, eventually... while actually they're going back to (capable, dangerous, but known and understood) T-72s for their armour units.

They're good at technology demonstrators and prototypes. What they find harder, is actually getting from there to long production runs and fielded capability.

Being as how they will be facing the grand total of null points in the MBT numbers in the Baltics, they could dig up some ancient T-55’s and brush the local yokels aside.

On the more pressing front.

No ones laughing at large numbers of S-400’s, SS-N-27’s and Iskander M within Russian territory, all controlled and directed by the high end of the Russian C2 structure, that would make life ‘interesting’ for any NATO Air, Sea or Land Cavalry riding to the rescue and coming to play on Ivans home pitch.

We do a bit of Kabuki theatre with assorted forces to play at Errol Flynn rescuing the Baktic wagon train, but we all know bloody well, if Vlad wants it, he can take it, and by the time we wake up, it’s too late bar WW3 and a balls to the wall invasion East to do anything about it - and we know how well invading Russia always turns out.
 
If you seriously thought the Russians were going to make a major push into the Baltic States, would you, after taking a good look at a map, really want to rush reinforcements there and do a repeat of the WWII Courland Pocket? Or would you rush them into Poland and set up defensive positions there?

The Baltic States themselves are not really worth much to anyone. The value they provide to Russia is as a hostage. It's a place where geography favours Russia and where they can display their strength at its greatest.

If "we" threaten Russia's vital interests anywhere else, the Russians simply rattle their sabres around the Baltic States and we suddenly find ourselves stretched too thin and have to scurry back to deal with the threat.

So Britain's response to this seems to be to have a highly mobile force which theoretically could be rushed into the Baltic States in short order. As such, NATO commitments are met, brownie points are scored in European and American capitals. and Britain's standing in the world is maintained.

But if push came to shove and the Russians really did move into the Baltics, would Britain's army rush headlong into the Baltic States, or would it stop somewhere short of that, at least until the continental European powers can put together an adequate field force? Given the current realities with regards to the preparedness (or lack thereof) of the continental militaries, I suspect the latter course would be closer to reality.
 
I think Photex has it bang on - the moment the indefensible Baltics are secured NATO will call a ceasefire and accept the status quo. Theres no way they would reinforce elsewhere rather than shipping to the Baltics and continue the war.

Not one of the NATO members have any history of continuing a war on other fronts if its ally is defeated and certainly not if the war took place a long way from home.

Its for this reason that in 1939 The French and British knowing they couldn't ship troops to Poland sacked it the moment Poland called quits.
Likewise in 1982 after a near bloodless** fait accomplie the UK happily left the Malvinas in Argentine hands.
Then of course following its rapid defeat in 91 Kuwait became a province of Iraq.

**Ricky Phillips wibble aside
 
Interesting from 2014 and ‘15, before the eFP: https://www.rand.org/content/dam/rand/pubs/research_reports/RR1200/RR1253/RAND_RR1253.pdf

Nobody says Vlad won’t be able to take the Baltic nations. The definition of ‘winning’ would be their annexation into the Russian Federation and ‘normal’ ties resumed. Which means goodbye NATO as it isn’t even worth the paper it’s printed on. No point in having an alliance if nobody does anything about an A5 breach.

Notably, the Russian supporters call the Baltic nations ‘worthless’, something @YarS alludes to. Setting the ground rules of their ‘loss’ being of no matter or consequence. I wonder how they would feel when the same ‘worthless’ tag is applied to their countries of origin.

Yes, all of the past couple of pages should be moved to the Baltics thread. This is just a rehash of the same arguments on there.
 
If you seriously thought the Russians were going to make a major push into the Baltic States, would you, after taking a good look at a map, really want to rush reinforcements there and do a repeat of the WWII Courland Pocket? Or would you rush them into Poland and set up defensive positions there?

The Baltic States themselves are not really worth much to anyone. The value they provide to Russia is as a hostage. It's a place where geography favours Russia and where they can display their strength at its greatest.

If "we" threaten Russia's vital interests anywhere else, the Russians simply rattle their sabres around the Baltic States and we suddenly find ourselves stretched too thin and have to scurry back to deal with the threat.

So Britain's response to this seems to be to have a highly mobile force which theoretically could be rushed into the Baltic States in short order. As such, NATO commitments are met, brownie points are scored in European and American capitals. and Britain's standing in the world is maintained.

But if push came to shove and the Russians really did move into the Baltics, would Britain's army rush headlong into the Baltic States, or would it stop somewhere short of that, at least until the continental European powers can put together an adequate field force? Given the current realities with regards to the preparedness (or lack thereof) of the continental militaries, I suspect the latter course would be closer to reality.
That depends.
If relations with Russia deteriorated to the point where war was an imminent possibility, then I'd expect NATO would have troops in place, with the British being part of a mobile rapid re-enforcement. Normally the warning flags would be evident some time before event, and this allows the phased re-enforcement of the Baltic States. The Poles will view this with great interest as they border Lithuania and have a less than positive view of Russia. They might well decide to reinforce Lithuania as part of a forward defence strategy in accordance with NATO before Russia starts moving.
 
. . . Yes, all of the past couple of pages should be moved to the Baltics thread. This is just a rehash of the same arguments on there.
I asked/suggested the same, a couple of pages back.

Please - pretty please - is there a MOD with a spare 5-10 minutes?! ;) .

It would be nice to have this thread "back-on-track" :) .
 
I asked/suggested the same, a couple of pages back.

Please - pretty please - is there a MOD with a spare 5-10 minutes?! ;) .

It would be nice to have this thread "back-on-track" :) .
@Sixty as ‘a Super Mod’, can you move the past couple of pages into the Baltics thread please?
 
Why mention the Maginot line? Vlad can take the Baltic nations in 60 or so hours if he wants to. By front door, back door, skylight or porthole.

Last I heard, the idea of recce was to give an idea where the opfor is and allow those up the chain to deal with it.

Whether he and Russia in its current configuration survive that is anybody’s guess. They didn’t perform very well against a neighbour who had older versions of the same kit. That land corridor to Crimea is still missing hence the bridge.
Ahem. 45 minutes. Be honest.
 

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