One of the things that I didn’t touch on in my description about how a war between Russia and the West will play out was the resistance that the populations of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania would muster after a Russian occupation. That was a deliberate omission because you just can’t fit everything into one piece, but to be fair this is indeed so important that it deserves attention.
The Russians would do well to factor in the fighting spirit of the Baltic populations. The patriotic sentiment in these countries is strong, and they all have a proud history of fighting for their freedom. Although they have not always been successful in their aspirations for independence in different wars, there is a clear awareness that they actually did win twice during the last 100 years. One time through war, and one time through collective persistence and patience.
The forests of the Baltic States provide very good conditions for asymmetric warfare. It would be one thing for the Russians to make a quick invasion but a very other thing to keep them in the long run. The Baltic countries generally have a well trained military reserve that could prove difficult to control for the Russian military.1
While it may be tempting to compare a possible occupation of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania to the recent wars in Ukraine, Georgia, and Syria, such a comparison would be wrong on several accounts. The Baltic populations have access to resources that Russia’s other opponents can only dream about, because NATO would provide supplies of weapons and ammunition. Western special forces may even take direct part in the resistance. And the popular support would be huge because the Baltic countries would be threatened on their entire existence. In other words, it would be a war with a potential of terrifying losses on both sides even if it does not end in a full scale war between Russia and NATO.
- Latvia really should reintroduce conscription to get a systematic approach to building a military reserve. ↩