More US soldiers and Baltic Sea Policing Mission among ICDS recommendations for NATO

How should the United States and NATO prioritize their resources to the Baltic States? That is the topic of this policy paper that Erik Marmei and Gabriel White have written for ICDS.

The policy paper outlines a series of weaknesses with the defense in the Baltic States. It is pointed out that despite the fact that all three Baltic States spend more that NATO’s 2 percent of GDP goal, there will not be enough local funding to create a credible defense against the threat from Russia. …Continue reading

The Baltic nations would be hard to beat

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. …Continue reading

Maybe former Soviet republics don’t like to be Russia’s “sphere of interest”

Mikhail Barabanov in Moscow Defense Brief:

Russia holds the Zapad drills along its western borders once every four years; the previous such event took place in 2013. This year, however, the reaction from some of Russia’s neighbors to the west has been nothing short of hysterical.
[…]
For all the Western concerns, the scenario of the main phase of the drills was purely defensive, and focused on defending an allied state (Belarus) from hostile actions and then a direct invasion by the West. In that sense, the scenario was fully in line with the Putin administration’s perception of the domestic and external threats facing Russia. The exercise was a fairly typical reflection of how Russia believes it should act in the former Soviet republics to protect its “sphere of interests” from any encroachment by foreigners. It did not imply any major military operations beyond the borders of the former Soviet Union. As with the famous “Gerasimov Doctrine” (which reflects Russian views of how the West operates, but which Western commentators choose to interpret as Russia’s own preferred course of action), the [Zapad] 2017 drills were not a simulation of a Russian act of aggression. Rather, they reflected the growing concern in the Russian military-political leadership about increasingly blatant Western meddling in former Soviet republics.

Gee, I wonder what caused the former Soviet republics of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania to become so hysterical.

Latvia more vulnerable to disinformation than other Baltic States

Latvia scores lower than the other Baltic States on the Disinformation Resilience Index (via icds.ee):

Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania: who is better equipped to counter disinformation? Estonia developed noticeably higher quality of systemic responses to disinformation campaigns than the other Baltic States. Lithuanians are much less exposed to Russian media environment as Russian-speaking part of population there is many times less numerous. While Latvia does relatively worse than the other two neighbors in withstanding the information threats.

Latvia receives first howitzers

Latvia has received the first batch of self-propelled howitzers. The 155 mm/39 self-propelled howitzers M109A5Öe are part of a deal with Austria to buy a total of 47 armored vehicles. All of them are of the M109 family, but only 35 are howitzers. The remaining are 10 fire control vehicles and two machines for training of drivers.

The vehicles are not new. In fact, Austria got them used from Britain in 1994, so they are rather old by now. However, they were all modernized in 2002-07, and many of them were moved directly from modernization to the storage warehouse.1 Presumably Lativa therefore obtained some pretty good armored vehicles for the total sum of 6 million Euros.


  1. It seems to be a military tradition to modernize stuff just before you decide not to use it anymore. 

Jamming of phones and GPS during Zapad causes concerns

Did Russia jam GPS signals in Norway and phone services in Latvia and Sweden and during exercise Zapad in September? Apparently there are many indications that they did, and now Secretary-General of NATO Jens Stoltenberg has expressed his concerns about the Russian demonstrations of electronic warfare capabilities.

Ideally, military units have redundant systems so they are able to continue operations despite the application of electronic warfare on the battlefield. This may not always get enough attention during exercises, but at least military units are aware that electronic countermeasures exist, and they have some kind of prepared response to it. Military ships, for example, should be able to navigate safely without GPS.

The civil society is much more vulnerable. For most people cellular phones are crucial in emergency situations, and effective GPS jamming could be dangerous for transportation systems, potentially leading to accidents.

Suspicions are that the Russian GPS jamming in Norway was applied in order to disrupt their own forces during training, whereas the phone jamming in Latvia and Sweden was perhaps a deliberate attempt at disturbing these countries. Regardless, it is dangerous to apply such measures, and it shouldn’t be done without prior notice. The Latvian emergency phone service was shut down for several hours, and although there are no reports of anybody not receiving necessary help during the attack, real people could have suffered as a result.

Danish admiral says submarines are flagrant waste of money

The Defense Commission of the Danish parliament yesterday conducted a hearing on the question of whether Denmark should reintroduce submarines and sea mines in the naval arsenal. Both were phased out in 2005 but especially the importance of submarines has been a question of intense debate ever since.

Rear admiral Nils Wang, commandant of the Danish Defence College, made some headlines in local newspapers with a statement from the hearing that an investment in submarines would be “a flagrant waste of money”. Wang’s argument was that a military conflict in the Baltic area would encompass a Russian invasion of the Baltic states and a subsequent Russian defensive posture in the Eastern part of the Baltic basin. Denmark would thus find itself in a position where the navy must play the offensive role in a mission to escort troops to the Baltic states under the support of allied forces counting several carrier strike groups located in the North Sea. In this scenario Wang primarily sees a need for area air defense, land attack strike missiles, a range of anti-submarine warfare (ASW) assets, and mine counter measures (MCM). However, Wang does not see a role for submarines in this scenario as, supposedly, they do not give any particular advantage in ASW in littoral areas.

Commodore Ulrich Reineke of the German Navy begged to disagree with his Danish colleague, saying that Germany finds submarines crucial for ASW and Read more