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Russia Aggression Answers

Uniqueness Answers —

1.    On Uniqueness. Russia won’t invade the Baltics in the status quo. Three warrants.

a.    First, Bandow 16 of CATO finds that historical Russia intervention is based on a strategic calculus by Putin making an intervention in the Baltics unlikely. Russia intervened in Georgia to minimize the threat of anti-Russian president Saakashvil in 2008. Russia intervened in Ukraine due to historical and cultural ties as well as access to the naval base of Sebastopol. By contrast, seizing the Baltic states would not serve any geostrategic objective and would trigger a Russian economic collapse due to the potential resources necessary to seize the Baltics.

b.    Second, Bandow continues that the ethnic minority ties to Russia within the Baltics is many social as opposed to political. Many identify as Russians but don’t favor unification with Russia.

Bandow 16 [Bandow, Doug. 02-10-2016, “Russia Won’t Attack the Baltic States,” CATO Institution, https://www.cato.org/blog/russia-wont-attack-baltic-states]

The Rand researchers recommended a substantial allied military presence to deter Moscow. Shalapak and Johnson dismissed the cost, estimated at around $2.7 billion annually, but more commitments require more force structure, and that burden almost certainly would fall upon America rather than the Europeans. Just like the administration’s new initiative for Eastern Europe involving a single brigade. Their conclusion illustrates the folly years ago of treating NATO as a social club and inducting new members which were irrelevant to the continent’s security and possessed minimal military capabilities. Now the alliance realizes that it is obligated to war against nuclear‐​armed Russia on behalf of essentially indefensible countries. Equally striking is how NATO membership has discouraged the Baltic nations from doing much for their own defense. Last year Latvia and Lithuania devoted 1.06 percent and 1.14 percent, respectively, of GDP to the military. Estonia was 2.04 percent—the first time Tallinn met the official NATO standard. Yet the surging fear over Russian adventurism is misplaced. Vladimir Putin’s behavior is bad, but poses little threat to America, “old” Europe, or even most of Russia’s neighbors. He has taken Moscow back to the Russian Empire, not the Soviet Union. His government demands respect for its status, protection of Russia’s borders, and consideration of its interests. Mikhail Saakashvili’s Georgia was actively anti‐​Russian, pursued close ties with America, and sought membership in NATO—all certain to antagonize Moscow. Ukraine always mattered more to Moscow than Georgia or the Baltics for historical and cultural reasons, as well as the naval base of Sebastopol. Putin acted only after Europe pushed a trade agreement to reorient Ukraine away from Russia and both Brussels and Washington backed a street revolution against the elected president who leaned toward Russia. Even then, Putin sought to weaken, not conquer, Ukraine. His brutal response was murderous and unjustified, but militarily on par with U.S. interventions. Putin continues to demonstrate no interest in ruling those likely to resist Russia’s tender mercies. Seizing the Baltic states likely would generate substantial popular resistance. Moreover, as weak nations currently containing no foreign troops, the Baltics pose no potential threat to Russia. Finally, the Baltic ethnic Russian populations, though significant, demonstrate little sentiment for joining Mother Russia. They prefer cultural connection to political affiliation, creating a poor target for the sort of destabilizing tactics deployed against Ukraine. So what would Russia gain from attacking the Baltics? A recalcitrant, majority non‐​ethnic Russian population. A possible temporary nationalist surge at home. A likely short‐​lived victory over the West. As I argue in National Interest: “The costs would be far greater. Grabbing the Baltics likely would spur population exodus and trigger economic collapse. Launching a war without the convincing pretext present in the cases of Georgia and Ukraine might leave the Russian public angry over the retaliation certain to come. Worse, Moscow certainly would rupture economic and political relations with the U.S. and Europe and probably start a losing conventional war with NATO. Even more frightening would be the prospect of a nuclear conflict. The U.S. should stop making defense promises which serve the interests of other nations rather than America. The Europeans should prepare their own defense.

c.     Third, Saakashvili of Foreign Policy Magazine continues that Putin is unlikely to invade the Baltics due to Baltic countries alliance with NATO. Any intervention would trigger NATO article 5 which lead to a military confrontation. With the United States

d.    Fourth, Saakashvili continues that Putin’s next military adventure will likely be outside the former Soviet Union such as Finland or Sweden who are outside of NATO but members of the European Union.

Saakashvili 19 [Saakashvili, Mikheil, 3-15-2019. “Russia’s Next Land Grab Won’t Be in an Ex-Soviet State. It Will Be in Europe.” Foreign Policy Magazine, https://foreignpolicy.com/2019/03/15/russias-next-land-grab-wont-be-in-an-ex-soviet-state-it-will-be-in-europe-putin-saakashvili-sweden-finland-arctic-northern-sea-route-baltics-nato/]

Putin’s violations of laws and norms in Russia’s “backyard” no longer seem to shock the world. He has already redrawn the borders of Europe by force and gotten away with it. Now, to provoke the West’s ire, he will have to do something even more egregious. It is not a question of whether he will attack, but where. Some point to Belarus, but Putin stands to gain little through a show of force in a country that most Russians already consider an integral part of Russia. Others predict that the Baltic nations of Estonia, Latvia, or Lithuania will be the next target. Putin certainly views the small Baltic countries as a threat; after all, they are functioning democracies on Russia’s border. But, for now, the Baltics are probably safe, for two reasons. First, the next frontier of Russian aggression is unlikely to be a NATO ally. The inconsistent responses of the West to Moscow’s various land grabs have only emboldened Putin, but he is not quite bold enough to risk triggering NATO’s Article 5 –which could lead to all-out conventional war against a U.S.-led alliance. Putin understands when he is outmatched. If that weren’t the case, he would not have survived this long. Second, Putin’s next adventure will likely be outside the former Soviet Union. The West has grudgingly accepted his neoimperialist ambitions in the region. Further incursions into Ukraine, Georgia, or other non-NATO Soviet successor states would be deja vu all over again, which would do little to bolster Putin’s position. I have had the misfortune of getting to know Putin better than most people. Drawing on this firsthand knowledge, I predict a different direction of escalation. Russia’s most likely target in the near future is either Finland or Sweden; although both are members of the EU, they are not members of NATO. By attacking a non-NATO country, Putin does not risk a proportional response in accordance with Article 5. But by targeting a European country, he can expect to reap the rewards of public approval at home from voters who are desperate for a victory This is a simple cost-benefit analysis that Putin has conducted, openly, many times

AT Link –  Defense Commitments Checks Russian Aggression

1.    Turn. A substantial increase in military presence would cause Russian retaliation.  Frederick et. al 17 of Rand finds Russia would perceive a substantial increase in defense commitments by NATO as a hostile act significantly increasing the risk of escalation in other geopolitical hotspots. This turns their case in two ways.

A.   Frederick continues that in the short-term, Russia might lash out against the troop increases thereby triggering a war in the short-term.

B.   In the long-term, Russia might substantially increase military buildup increasing the risk of miscalculation and ramp up cyber warfare efforts potentially destabilizing critical infrastructure in the Baltics and in NATO countries

Frederick et. al 17 [Frederick, Bryan; Povlock, Matthew; Watts, Stephen; Priebe, Miranda; Geist, Edward. 2017, “Assessing Russian Reactions to U.S. and NATO Posture Enhancements,” RAND Corporation, https://www.rand.org/pubs/research_reports/RR1879.html]

On the other hand, the introduction of these units into the Baltics, presumably on a permanent basis, would also likely be perceived by Russia as a threatening act. Although three or four ABCTs are not enough to launch a plausible invasion of the Russian heartland, they could be sufficient to go after smaller pieces of Russian territory. For example, while the Baltic States represent a piece of NATO territory that is exposed and difficult to defend, the Kaliningrad enclave represents a similarly exposed territory of Russia. Russian decisionmakers would also likely interpret this move in the context of an overall high perception of U.S. and NATO hostile intent toward Russia, based on numerous events over the past 20 years (discussed in Chapter Three). Given the range of other U.S. security challenges throughout the world, Russia may simply not believe U.S. assurances that these units are intended to remain in the Baltic States indefinitely for purely defensive purposes. The concern for the United States in such a scenario would be twofold. First, if Russia perceives the deployment of these ABCTs to reflect either potentially offensive intent by NATO or a direct political challenge to the Russian leadership, Russia may decide to act precipitously to prevent the deployment from being carried out. Second, although these units would likely decrease the likelihood of a direct Russian attack on the Baltics once they are in place, the fact that Russia may view them as threatening gives it an incentive to undertake other actions to strengthen its security that may be counter to U.S. and NATO interests. This could include a substantial buildup of Russian forces in Kaliningrad and elsewhere on the Russia-NATO border or efforts to find other points of leverage, such as cyber vulnerabilities, that could be employed in the event of a crisis. How these two competing effects ultimately affect Russian decisionmaking will depend on the scenario in which the ABCTs are introduced. In both the baseline and Russia Lashes Out scenarios, Russian feelings of weakness are more acute, so such substantial U.S. or NATO posture enhancements would likely be seen as threatening. In the Weakened West scenario, however, Russia is feeling relatively more confident. In that scenario, NATO would represent an overall lower threat to Russia, so maintaining several ABCTs in the Baltics would likely on net reinforce deterrence.

2.    Turn. Historical announcements of increased military presence prompted a Russian military response. Frederick et. al 17 finds that in response to a 2016 Warsaw summit that would increase troop presence in the Baltics, Russia announced a buildup of its military postures near the Baltics. Frederick concludes that any large increase in U.S. or NATO troop presence would prompt a Russian response

Frederick et. al 17 [Frederick, Bryan; Povlock, Matthew; Watts, Stephen; Priebe, Miranda; Geist, Edward. 2017, “Assessing Russian Reactions to U.S. and NATO Posture Enhancements,” RAND Corporation, https://www.rand.org/pubs/research_reports/RR1879.html]

The plans also call for standing up a multinational divisional headquarters in Poland and constituting a multinational framework brigade in Romania. U.S. plans announced prior to Warsaw also call for storing the equipment for an ABCT, as well as additional equipment, across NATO’s eastern flank.2 Although the time frame for implementing all of these enhancements was not clear as of this writing, it is reasonable to expect that they will occur fairly quickly and be completed over approximately two years, as were most announced proposals from the 2014 NATO Wales Summit. As of this writing, Russia had sent some signals regarding its possible reactions. In May 2016, as plans for the July Warsaw Summit were being floated in the press, Russia announced posture enhancements of its own, including three additional mechanized divisions in the Western and Southern Military Districts, although it remains unclear to what extent these divisions will be constituted from existing rather than new units.3 Russia has condemned NATO’s proposals, but since the Warsaw Summit, its initial reaction has been muted.4 However, the implementation of the proposals from Warsaw, and particularly the arrival of larger numbers of U.S. and NATO troops, is likely to constitute another event to which Russian decisionmakers may feel the need to respond. With that in mind, in order to assess likely Russian reactions to these plans, we begin by outlining the current and near-term status of each of the key factors identified in Chapter Three.

3.    Turn. Frederick finds that even though Russia doesn’t care about the Baltics in the same way it cared about Ukraine or Georgia in the past, a buildup in the Baltics would result in an escalatory Russian response because it would signal NATO containment of Russian interests and set a precedent for a larger force increases across former Soviet territories.

Frederick et. al 17 [Frederick, Bryan; Povlock, Matthew; Watts, Stephen; Priebe, Miranda; Geist, Edward. 2017, “Assessing Russian Reactions to U.S. and NATO Posture Enhancements,” RAND Corporation, https://www.rand.org/pubs/research_reports/RR1879.html]

The location of many of the proposed enhancements in Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania is more threatening from a Russian perspective, not because of the capabilities that these forces would provide but because of the potential precedent they may set for larger forces in the future, and for the deployment of forces on former Soviet territory. Although Russia does not appear to view the Baltics similarly to Ukraine, Belarus, or Georgia in its strategic thinking, these states still appear to represent an area of greater concern than other NATO members in Eastern Europe. Therefore, persistent rotational deployments, including both ground and air forces, and prepositioning of equipment sets in the Baltics likely represent a heightened concern for Russia over similar deployments in, for example, Poland or Romania. The fact that NATO continues to maintain these forces on a persistent rotational basis, rather than as permanent deployments, appears to be intended as a signal to both Russia and certain European NATO allies that Russian concerns are still being taken into account. While the additional forces for Eastern Europe proposed at the Warsaw Summit do not appear to affect issues of nuclear stability, other NATO projects in the region are highly relevant to Russian perceptions thereof. In the months leading up to Warsaw, NATO announced that it had completed the missile defense site in Romania and was breaking ground on an additional site in Poland, slated for completion in 2018.17