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Old 07-19-2018, 04:12 PM
Velocity Velocity is offline
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Fait accompli: Russia conquering the Baltics in 48 hours - what to do next.

Sorry if this hypothetical's been done before - I'm sure it may have been one or a few years back, but can't recall the thread or how it went.

Let's say that in the near future, Russian forces, at Putin's behest, roll into the Baltic states (Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania) and blitzkrieg them all, conquering them all in 48 hours. NATO is caught flat-footed and mounts no defense. Putin announces that these Baltic states are now incorporated into Russian territory - that they are every bit Russian soil as Moscow itself - and that any NATO or foreign attempt to "liberate" them will result in massive nuclear retaliation. Ditto for any blockades or airstrikes or any other foreign military response.

So what should the response be? Merely imposing sanctions wouldn't fulfill Article 5. Announcing that "Russia, yes you can have them" could lead to NATO itself fracturing apart as NATO's bluff was called - that NATO won't, in fact, live up to its obligations. Sending NATO forces in to liberate may lead to nuclear winter.
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Old 07-19-2018, 04:22 PM
naita naita is offline
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Declare war. Block all travel to and from Russia through NATO borders, NATO waters and NATO air space. Give Russia 48 hours to withdraw before starting strategic strikes on any Russian forces in or close to the Baltics.

Russia is obviously bluffing, hoping the isolationist offspring of "The Greatest Generation" is unwilling to stand up for the agreements their parents and grandparents created to safeguard peace. And they might get their wish.
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Old 07-19-2018, 04:28 PM
Tamerlane Tamerlane is offline
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Sending NATO forces in to liberate may lead to nuclear winter.
You send NATO forces in to liberate. Which would take a little time to organize, so plenty of time for sabre-rattling diplomacy to get them to back out. Doing anything else would, as you say, invalidate NATO and next time it might be Poland.

Because the fact is that Russia almost certainly would NOT contemplate nuclear war over the Baltic states. They just aren't that valuable. An airborne division or two descending on Moscow to seize Putin? That might trigger a nuclear exchange of some sort. A limited war that stays contained to the Baltics with maybe air strikes over the border and a naval engagement? That would probably not.

Last edited by Tamerlane; 07-19-2018 at 04:31 PM.
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Old 07-19-2018, 04:46 PM
Malden Capell Malden Capell is offline
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Agreed. Either NATO stands for every inch of the territory of its members or its pointless. It has to fight, for the sake of peace.


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Old 07-19-2018, 04:50 PM
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Agreed. Either NATO stands for every inch of the territory of its members or its pointless. It has to fight, for the sake of peace.


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I agree. War is Peace. Either do nothing or it's WWIII, nuke time. Good luck
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Old 07-19-2018, 05:24 PM
DinoR DinoR is offline
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Outside NATO forces are already there so there will be casualties already spread around the alliance in that situation.

NATO provides the Quick Reaction Air policing mission for the Baltic republics since they don't have air forces. The Baltic Air Policing mission began in March 2004 on the day they entered the alliance. It's currently provided by France, Portugal, and Spain.

In response to the growing tensions, NATO has also deployed 4 reinforced battalion sized multinational battlegroups - one for each of the Baltic Republics and Poland. The nations currently providing troops for the Baltic republic battlegroups are UK, Denmark, Iceland, Canada, Albania, Czech Republic, Italy, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Germany, Belgium, France, Netherlands, and Norway. (bold designates lead nations)

The two missions are not enough to make a real difference in force ratios. They're still important. 20 of 29 NATO members will already have troops in combat when hostilities begin. They'll be fighting, dying, and calling back for assistance. Their fights will likely dominate their national news cycle for those first 48 hours. It's a posture specifically tailored to avoid the fait accompli scenario with most of the alliance members watching from ringside. NATO thought about the hypothetical and chose to fight it.

Last edited by DinoR; 07-19-2018 at 05:25 PM.
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Old 07-19-2018, 10:03 PM
Velocity Velocity is offline
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Outside NATO forces are already there so there will be casualties already spread around the alliance in that situation.

NATO provides the Quick Reaction Air policing mission for the Baltic republics since they don't have air forces. The Baltic Air Policing mission began in March 2004 on the day they entered the alliance. It's currently provided by France, Portugal, and Spain.

In response to the growing tensions, NATO has also deployed 4 reinforced battalion sized multinational battlegroups - one for each of the Baltic Republics and Poland. The nations currently providing troops for the Baltic republic battlegroups are UK, Denmark, Iceland, Canada, Albania, Czech Republic, Italy, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Germany, Belgium, France, Netherlands, and Norway. (bold designates lead nations)

The two missions are not enough to make a real difference in force ratios. They're still important. 20 of 29 NATO members will already have troops in combat when hostilities begin. They'll be fighting, dying, and calling back for assistance. Their fights will likely dominate their national news cycle for those first 48 hours. It's a posture specifically tailored to avoid the fait accompli scenario with most of the alliance members watching from ringside. NATO thought about the hypothetical and chose to fight it.


Right - but what if those 20 nations think, "Still better for us to lose a thousand soldiers than a million civilians?"
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Old 07-19-2018, 10:07 PM
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If Russia invades three NATO countries and gets away with it, why should we expect them to stop?
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Old 07-19-2018, 10:29 PM
FlikTheBlue FlikTheBlue is offline
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If Russia invades three NATO countries and gets away with it, why should we expect them to stop?
The US would expect him to stop because the Atlantic and Pacific oceans are in the way. The other European nations have no such barriers. I think Germany, France, and the UK would fight back even without US assistance. I don’t know whether those three nations plus the other smaller European nations on their own are powerful enough to defeat Russia in a conventional war.

Last edited by FlikTheBlue; 07-19-2018 at 10:30 PM.
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Old 07-19-2018, 10:57 PM
Velocity Velocity is offline
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If Russia invades three NATO countries and gets away with it, why should we expect them to stop?
Because there's always a point where one has bitten off as much or more than one can chew. And it's quite possible that for Russia, the Baltics are all they can reliably take and hold.

For the record, I am not advocating NATO passivity in the face of a hypothetical Russian attack, quite the opposite. I just don't think that it necessarily follows that if/because Russia has taken the Baltics, Poland must therefore necessarily be next on the menu.
  #11  
Old 07-20-2018, 01:22 AM
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A blitzkrieg running through the Baltics is very unlikely. Putin will play a similar game as he did in Ukraine - express alarm at how the Russian minority populations in the eastern regions of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania need protection. Basically what they did in Crimea when they sent in black ops troops to take over while insisting it was purely a homegrown uprising. In this scenario I would expect the US, under the leadership of our current President, to throw a welcome party for the annexation forces. Possibly even a ribbon cutting ceremony by Donald himself as the tanks roll in.

The European members of NATO would be hopping mad, but without support from the US they would probably do little from a military standpoint.
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Old 07-20-2018, 02:07 AM
Malden Capell Malden Capell is offline
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Because there's always a point where one has bitten off as much or more than one can chew. And it's quite possible that for Russia, the Baltics are all they can reliably take and hold.



For the record, I am not advocating NATO passivity in the face of a hypothetical Russian attack, quite the opposite. I just don't think that it necessarily follows that if/because Russia has taken the Baltics, Poland must therefore necessarily be next on the menu.


Of course, but it'll be death by a thousand cuts. Absorb the Baltics, wait a few years, do it again with Poland, a few years more, prod Romania. The Baltic fiasco would have put the alliance under strain, and losing Poland would destroy it. Romania would be much easier.


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Old 07-20-2018, 03:19 AM
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You send NATO forces in to liberate. Which would take a little time to organize, so plenty of time for sabre-rattling diplomacy to get them to back out. Doing anything else would, as you say, invalidate NATO and next time it might be Poland.
If by "little time" you mean between 2-5 years, then yes. NATO has lost essentially all of the heavy armoured and mechanised forces it had in 1989 and what exist have been busy with CI work for years and don't really have the training for large scale armour ops (I beleive the US is trying to rectify thus).

NATO would probably make a withdrawal to a line based on the Vistula. First real defensive position they can hold.
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Old 07-20-2018, 03:21 AM
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Originally Posted by DinoR View Post
Outside NATO forces are already there so there will be casualties already spread around the alliance in that situation.

NATO provides the Quick Reaction Air policing mission for the Baltic republics since they don't have air forces. The Baltic Air Policing mission began in March 2004 on the day they entered the alliance. It's currently provided by France, Portugal, and Spain.

In response to the growing tensions, NATO has also deployed 4 reinforced battalion sized multinational battlegroups - one for each of the Baltic Republics and Poland. The nations currently providing troops for the Baltic republic battlegroups are UK, Denmark, Iceland, Canada, Albania, Czech Republic, Italy, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Germany, Belgium, France, Netherlands, and Norway. (bold designates lead nations)

The two missions are not enough to make a real difference in force ratios. They're still important. 20 of 29 NATO members will already have troops in combat when hostilities begin. They'll be fighting, dying, and calling back for assistance. Their fights will likely dominate their national news cycle for those first 48 hours. It's a posture specifically tailored to avoid the fait accompli scenario with most of the alliance members watching from ringside. NATO thought about the hypothetical and chose to fight it.
4 battalions are expected to hold off the Ruskie hoards in flat terrian?
Frankly it looks like the Berlin Brigade mk 2.
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Old 07-20-2018, 04:12 AM
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Putin announces that these Baltic states are now incorporated into Russian territory - that they are every bit Russian soil as Moscow itself - and that any NATO or foreign attempt to "liberate" them will result in massive nuclear retaliation. Ditto for any blockades or airstrikes or any other foreign military response.
That's cool, because I've already launched nukes at Moscow and St. Petersburg.

This is how MAD works.
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Old 07-20-2018, 04:34 AM
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MAD (mutually assured destruction) is a doctrine which supposedly deters any party from using nuclear weapons. Your first strike ensures your own complete annihilation.

Threats to use nuclear weapons are a subtler issue, especially since under certain assumptions it is irrational to use them under any circumstances, so you would think nobody would ever bother to make such threats. Yet in real life they occasionally do, albeit in veiled form. Presumably this could have rhetorical value.

Last edited by DPRK; 07-20-2018 at 04:36 AM.
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Old 07-20-2018, 05:09 AM
Chisquirrel Chisquirrel is offline
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4 battalions are expected to hold off the Ruskie hoards in flat terrian?
Frankly it looks like the Berlin Brigade mk 2.
It's the same reason the US has forces stationed right next to the DMZ. It's not to stop their advance, or barely to slow it - just to show that they WILL be committed, as it's their own people dying.
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Old 07-20-2018, 07:26 AM
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I realize I'm fighting the hypothetical, but let's not take for granted that Russia could conduct a very large invasion without us noticing a buildup.

And for additional historical context, the United States never recognized the Soviet annexation of the Baltic states. Just because Putin declares something so, does not mean anyone is obligated to believe him. War would surely follow because Russia literally started an unprovoked war of aggression against major allies. The justification for war could literally not be clearer.
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Old 07-20-2018, 07:45 AM
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War.

The problem of course is that war is, well, war. It's awful.

You know what the solution to the OP's problem is, of course? It's making it REALLY clear that you absolutely will go to war over the issue, that an invasion of the Baltics means war, lots of war, right now. Then they won't do it.

The various postulated scenarios in this thread are all possible if Russia is allowed the latitude to try an invasion. That of course it what's so scary; once you weaken the resolve of NATO, anything is possible, and escalation is near certain. A soft approach to Russia does not make nuclear war less likely. It makes it MUCH more likely.
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Old 07-20-2018, 07:56 AM
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War.

The problem of course is that war is, well, war. It's awful.

You know what the solution to the OP's problem is, of course? It's making it REALLY clear that you absolutely will go to war over the issue, that an invasion of the Baltics means war, lots of war, right now. Then they won't do it.

The various postulated scenarios in this thread are all possible if Russia is allowed the latitude to try an invasion. That of course it what's so scary; once you weaken the resolve of NATO, anything is possible, and escalation is near certain. A soft approach to Russia does not make nuclear war less likely. It makes it MUCH more likely.
Read up on the latest Russia writings on this.
In the Cold War they did not doubt that the Americans would fight for W Germany, afterall twice in the 20th century the US had been compelled to enter a European War.

The current Russian writers are unsure whether the Americans or the major W European countries would fight for E Europe and the Baltics.

That is not a good thing.
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Old 07-20-2018, 09:25 AM
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Sorry if this hypothetical's been done before - I'm sure it may have been one or a few years back, but can't recall the thread or how it went.

Let's say that in the near future, Russian forces, at Putin's behest, roll into the Baltic states (Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania) and blitzkrieg them all, conquering them all in 48 hours. NATO is caught flat-footed and mounts no defense. Putin announces that these Baltic states are now incorporated into Russian territory - that they are every bit Russian soil as Moscow itself - and that any NATO or foreign attempt to "liberate" them will result in massive nuclear retaliation. Ditto for any blockades or airstrikes or any other foreign military response.

So what should the response be? Merely imposing sanctions wouldn't fulfill Article 5. Announcing that "Russia, yes you can have them" could lead to NATO itself fracturing apart as NATO's bluff was called - that NATO won't, in fact, live up to its obligations. Sending NATO forces in to liberate may lead to nuclear winter.
The response should and would be a declaration of war by NATO against the Russians, and starting to ramp up to take them back by force if necessary. At the same time, probably a full on embargo of Russian trade, freezing of their assets, etc. This alone would cripple Russia's economy and probably send them into a deep depression. NATO would probably start of by flying interdiction missions to stifle Russia resupply and logistics into the Baltic states and air strikes at depots and caches, C&C and concentrations of Russian forces. Next would be a build up, most likely in Poland. The US would probably send whatever we have on hand right now to Poland and start the process of moving a large conventional force over, and my guess is the other NATO countries would be doing the same thing. Perhaps negotiations with the Ukraine to stage troops there or at least be able to use it to open another front or threaten south western Russia and the Crimea so Russia can't concentrate everything in the Baltic region.

The thing is, the modern Russia military isn't what it used to be. They don't have unlimited (seemingly) troops, tanks, planes etc. They actually have a pretty good core of capable units and troops, but it's really small. The rest is old Soviet crap that is unevenly maintained and a pool of reserves that have pretty indifferent training and less motivation. I'm not even sure if the Russian military COULD seize all 3 Baltic states as the OP posits. If they did they would be pushing their military to it's max, especially logistically, and the good units would be spread pretty thin...and vulnerable to being destroyed in detail.
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Old 07-20-2018, 02:03 PM
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Read up on the latest Russia writings on this.
In the Cold War they did not doubt that the Americans would fight for W Germany, afterall twice in the 20th century the US had been compelled to enter a European War.

The current Russian writers are unsure whether the Americans or the major W European countries would fight for E Europe and the Baltics.

That is not a good thing.
Not a good thing at all. How much of this uncertainty is due to positions and public statements by the current POTUS?

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The response should and would be a declaration of war by NATO against the Russians, and starting to ramp up to take them back by force if necessary....
My bolding in the quote. I seriously doubt there would be a declaration of war by NATO without the US going along and under the current Administration I find it highly unlikely that would happen.

Should it? Yes.

Would it? No.

Maybe the UK, France or Germany would go it alone but I really doubt that happening without the US being involved.

At this moment in time, if Putin wants the Baltics, they are his for the taking. Same for pretty much any country in the Caucasus as well IMO.
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Old 07-20-2018, 02:08 PM
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Not a good thing at all. How much of this uncertainty is due to positions and public statements by the current POTUS?


My bolding in the quote. I seriously doubt there would be a declaration of war by NATO without the US going along and under the current Administration I find it highly unlikely that would happen.

Should it? Yes.

Would it? No.

Maybe the UK, France or Germany would go it alone but I really doubt that happening without the US being involved.

At this moment in time, if Putin wants the Baltics, they are his for the taking. Same for pretty much any country in the Caucasus as well IMO.
Bullshit. If that was the case then Russian tanks would be rolling into the Ukraine and Putin et al wouldn't be pussyfooting around. The Ukraine isn't even a NATO member, so if he REALLY thought the US would just sit on the sidelines that's what he'd be doing. The Baltic states are actually members of NATO, and they certainly aren't his for the taking, regardless of the idiot we have in the Whitehouse.
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Old 07-20-2018, 02:11 PM
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At this moment in time, if Putin wants the Baltics, they are his for the taking. Same for pretty much any country in the Caucasus as well IMO.
This is total speculation, but at this moment, if Putin invaded the Baltics and Trump failed to uphold the U.S.'s Article V commitments to NATO, I think we would be looking at President Pence within a short period of time.

Which Caucasus NATO member are you referring to, exactly?
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Old 07-20-2018, 02:19 PM
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Bullshit. If that was the case then Russian tanks would be rolling into the Ukraine and Putin et al wouldn't be pussyfooting around. The Ukraine isn't even a NATO member, so if he REALLY thought the US would just sit on the sidelines that's what he'd be doing. The Baltic states are actually members of NATO, and they certainly aren't his for the taking, regardless of the idiot we have in the Whitehouse.

There could be thousands of other reasons why the Russians aren't moving into Baltics, E Europe or Mongolia for that matter, even if they thought the US would not try and stop them........
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Old 07-20-2018, 02:25 PM
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This is total speculation, but at this moment, if Putin invaded the Baltics and Trump failed to uphold the U.S.'s Article V commitments to NATO, I think we would be looking at President Pence within a short period of time.
Article V reads
Emphasis supplied
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“The Parties agree that an armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all and consequently they agree that, if such an armed attack occurs, each of them, in exercise of the right of individual or collective self-defence recognized by Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations, will assist the Party or Parties so attacked by taking forthwith, individually and in concert with the other Parties, such action as it deems necessary, including the use of armed force, to restore and maintain the security of the North Atlantic area.

Any such armed attack and all measures taken as a result thereof shall immediately be reported to the Security Council. Such measures shall be terminated when the Security Council has taken the measures necessary to restore and maintain international peace and security.”
such action as it deems necessary........you do realise a strongly worded letter or a tweet which says "Sad" fulfils the requirement if the properly constituted authorities think its necessary? Nothing in Article V compels action.
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Which Caucasus NATO member are you referring to, exactly?
Does Turkey have any territory in the Caucasus? Cause otherwise, I got nothing,
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Old 07-20-2018, 02:33 PM
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such action as it deems necessary........you do realise a strongly worded letter or a tweet which says "Sad" fulfils the requirement if the properly constituted authorities think its necessary? Nothing in Article V compels action.
... is what Rudy Giuliani will argue on the Senate Floor.
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Old 07-20-2018, 02:34 PM
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There could be thousands of other reasons why the Russians aren't moving into Baltics, E Europe or Mongolia for that matter, even if they thought the US would not try and stop them........
But there aren't. And I didn't say it was just because of the US...that's your strawman.
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Old 07-20-2018, 03:13 PM
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The thing is, the modern Russia military isn't what it used to be. They don't have unlimited (seemingly) troops, tanks, planes etc. They actually have a pretty good core of capable units and troops, but it's really small. The rest is old Soviet crap that is unevenly maintained and a pool of reserves that have pretty indifferent training and less motivation. I'm not even sure if the Russian military COULD seize all 3 Baltic states as the OP posits. If they did they would be pushing their military to it's max, especially logistically, and the good units would be spread pretty thin...and vulnerable to being destroyed in detail.
Sounds like the Soviets at the outset of WWII (e.g. the Winter War).

But Russia seems to manage to hang in there with a willingness to keep absorbing staggering losses. Losses most western nations would not tolerate.
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Old 07-20-2018, 03:18 PM
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Sounds like the Soviets at the outset of WWII (e.g. the Winter War).

But Russia seems to manage to hang in there with a willingness to keep absorbing staggering losses. Losses most western nations would not tolerate.
They did most of that on the defensive and with massive aid from the US. Also, things have changed quite a bit from WWII...building some T-34's in Siberia is not the same thing as trying to build enough T-14's to compete with what NATO would be throwing at them at the end of a very long and vulnerable supply line and in very hostile territory. A good many folks who live in the Baltic states HATE the Russians and never want to live under their thumb again.

As to the last point, I'm unsure why folks assume that today's Russia youth is anything like the stoic Russians of the Great Patriotic War era. The Russian's haven't been willing to put up with the mass slaughter and casual mass killings, forced labor camps or intentional mass starvation stuff since Stalin finally shuffled off. Oh, they certainly are more tolerant of abuse than your average German (or American), but nothing like how they were in the past...and I seriously doubt the majority of their conscripts today would be willing to put up with the types of losses the Russian's had at the beginning (or, hell, the end) of WWII. Especially in a war of aggression to conquer territory they basically don't care about, by and large.
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Old 07-20-2018, 03:44 PM
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4 battalions are expected to hold off the Ruskie hoards in flat terrian?
Frankly it looks like the Berlin Brigade mk 2.
See that part where I mentioned it doesn't make a real difference in force ratios? They are small even compared to the combined combat power organic to the three Baltic Republics

It's not quite the Berlin Brigade or their mission, either, since that was about proving US support. It is definitely a move to address the issue of whether NATO will fight for the Baltics or other eastern NATO members. It's not a question of whether the rest of NATO decides to intervene after the Baltics have already fallen. Most NATO countries will already be in combat against Russia before they can fall. That modifies the hypothetical, and the internal political dynamics, in a significant way.
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Old 07-20-2018, 04:12 PM
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Tell China they can everything east of the Lena if they help out, then go to town on the Russkies.
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Old 07-20-2018, 04:49 PM
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I'm in the camp that thinks people are generally substantially overrating Russia and substantially underrating NATO minus the United States. The economic balance in particular is stark - Russia's GDP isn't much above Spain's. Turkey, with not much more than half of Russia's population, has two thirds of Russia's GDP. Turkey.

Even with Russia spending a much higher proportion of its GDP on the military, it is still out-bulked in defense spending by well over 4 to 1 by non-US NATO. There are persistent reports that Russia has myriad maintenance issues with its fleet of equipment due to lack of resources. Similar problems apparently exist in terms of military recruitment. Even stripped of American support I rather doubt( nuclear weapons aside )that Russia has the resources to win any sort of extended struggle. It's a bit like Germany in WW II - given reasonable unity and enough time to build up and squeeze Russia economically, Russia is going to lose.

Not that it matters because I don't care how much Trump is in Putin's pocket*, the odds of the U.S. sitting out a naked invasion like that are IMHO close to nil.


* I for one tend to doubt he actually is. I just think Trump is very, very easily massaged and worked by Putin.

Last edited by Tamerlane; 07-20-2018 at 04:51 PM.
  #34  
Old 07-20-2018, 04:53 PM
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Bullshit. If that was the case then Russian tanks would be rolling into the Ukraine and Putin et al wouldn't be pussyfooting around. The Ukraine isn't even a NATO member, so if he REALLY thought the US would just sit on the sidelines that's what he'd be doing. The Baltic states are actually members of NATO, and they certainly aren't his for the taking, regardless of the idiot we have in the Whitehouse.
Meh. The fact the Baltic states are members of NATO is probably the main reason, up to this point, that Putin hasn't done what the OP describes. In my first post in this thread (post #11), I state I think it much more likely Putin would send troops into the eastern part of the Baltic states under the excuse of protecting the ethnic Russians living there.

This is pretty much the reason given for his actions in invading the Crimea and screwing around in eastern Ukraine. After our President's recent performance in Helsinki I doubt he feels there would be much his good friend Donald would do in retaliation.

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This is total speculation, but at this moment, if Putin invaded the Baltics and Trump failed to uphold the U.S.'s Article V commitments to NATO, I think we would be looking at President Pence within a short period of time.
Amusing you would call out my post as total speculation in a thread that is nothing BUT total speculation.

Clearly you have more faith than I that the GOP leadership would ever act to remove Trump from office. Personally I've seen absolutely nothing to indicate there is any hope that is anything other than speculation. As long as the GOP controls the Senate I don't see any action being taken to remove Trump from office. For any reason.

And considering the degree to which Pence has marched in lockstep with Trump what makes you think he would do anything more than use harsh language if it was his decision?

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Which Caucasus NATO member are you referring to, exactly?
Cute. Check my post because that isn't what I said. Please refrain from misrepresenting what I write or from putting words in my mouth in the future.

My point is that given how Trump is bent on damaging NATO AND kowtowing to the Russians it wouldn't surprise me if Putin took that as license to do what he wants in places like the Baltic states or the Caucasus. I don't see whether a state is or isn't a member of NATO would be likely to stop him from seizing part of their territory and making up a lame excuse such as protecting ethnic Russian minorities or Russian interests. That has been his line about Crimea and the Ukraine from the beginning. Why change a strategy that has been proven to work?
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Old 07-20-2018, 04:58 PM
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I'm in the camp that thinks people are generally substantially overrating Russia and substantially underrating NATO minus the United States. The economic balance in particular is stark - Russia's GDP isn't much above Spain's. Turkey, with not much more than half of Russia's population, has two thirds of Russia's GDP. Turkey.

Even with Russia spending a much higher proportion of its GDP on the military, it is still out-bulked in defense spending by well over 4 to 1 by non-US NATO. There are persistent reports that Russia has myriad maintenance issues with its fleet of equipment due to lack of resources. Similar problems apparently exist in terms of military recruitment. Even stripped of American support I rather doubt( nuclear weapons aside )that Russia has the resources to win any sort of extended struggle. It's a bit like Germany in WW II - given reasonable unity and enough time to build up and squeeze Russia economically, Russia is going to lose.

Not that it matters because I don't care how much Trump is in Putin's pocket*, the odds of the U.S. sitting out a naked invasion like that are IMHO close to nil.


* I for one tend to doubt he actually is. I just think Trump is very, very easily massaged and worked by Putin.
Exactly on all points.
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  #36  
Old 07-20-2018, 05:01 PM
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Even with Russia spending a much higher proportion of its GDP on the military, it is still out-bulked in defense spending by well over 4 to 1 by non-US NATO. There are persistent reports that Russia has myriad maintenance issues with its fleet of equipment due to lack of resources. Similar problems apparently exist in terms of military recruitment. Even stripped of American support I rather doubt( nuclear weapons aside )that Russia has the resources to win any sort of extended struggle. It's a bit like Germany in WW II - given reasonable unity and enough time to build up and squeeze Russia economically, Russia is going to lose.
Of course the problem is that we can't really put nuclear weapons aside and even if Russia is sure to lose, they can inflict enough damage to make everyone else loses, too. Fortunately, Putin doesn't seem religiously apocalyptic or generally suicidal.

I'm not sure how much it costs to maintain a nuclear arsenal. I'm kind of hoping that after another 20 years of careful containment, helped along by continued sanctions, Russia's nuclear threat will be reduced to the same level as, say, India's.
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Old 07-20-2018, 05:17 PM
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Of course the problem is that we can't really put nuclear weapons aside and even if Russia is sure to lose, they can inflict enough damage to make everyone else loses, too. Fortunately, Putin doesn't seem religiously apocalyptic or generally suicidal.

I'm not sure how much it costs to maintain a nuclear arsenal. I'm kind of hoping that after another 20 years of careful containment, helped along by continued sanctions, Russia's nuclear threat will be reduced to the same level as, say, India's.
Conversely, neither can the Russians. It would be them risking nuclear war, after all, by attacking not just 1 but 3 NATO allies simultaneously.

ETA: I doubt in that time frame Russia would go from thousands of nuclear weapons to less than a hundred. It would be nice, but not happening IMHO. Though one thing no one ever seems to consider is...what, exactly, is the current state of the Russian nuclear arsenal? I seriously doubt even they are all that confident in it, considering that even the US isn't rock solid certain they will all work as designed. And we spend a hell of a lot more maintaining ours than they do theirs, and our didn't sit around languishing for several years or a decade while we got our shit back together and found funds.
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  #38  
Old 07-20-2018, 07:23 PM
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Amusing you would call out my post as total speculation in a thread that is nothing BUT total speculation.
Would you be relieved to know that “this is total speculation” referred to my impeachment scenario, and not your opinion?

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Clearly you have more faith than I that the GOP leadership would ever act to remove Trump from office. Personally I've seen absolutely nothing to indicate there is any hope that is anything other than speculation. As long as the GOP controls the Senate I don't see any action being taken to remove Trump from office. For any reason.
I’m saying that World War III in which the President sides with the authoritarian aggressor would be the breaking point. I do not agree that there is zero breaking point.

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And considering the degree to which Pence has marched in lockstep with Trump what makes you think he would do anything more than use harsh language if it was his decision?
Because Pence has NOT been in lockstep with Trump on NATO.

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Cute. Check my post because that isn't what I said. Please refrain from misrepresenting what I write or from putting words in my mouth in the future.
I thought it was a clever way to emphasize the point that Russia invading a NATO ally is a different situation than Russia invading a country that is not an ally. A fact you disregard.

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I don't see whether a state is or isn't a member of NATO would be likely to stop him from seizing part of their territory and making up a lame excuse such as protecting ethnic Russian minorities or Russian interests. That has been his line about Crimea and the Ukraine from the beginning. Why change a strategy that has been proven to work?
Because seizing Crimea or the Georgia invasion carried little risk of World War III and no risk of nuclear war. That cannot be said of the Baltics.

Last edited by Ravenman; 07-20-2018 at 07:23 PM.
  #39  
Old 07-20-2018, 10:10 PM
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This talk about the readiness of Russia's nuclear arsenal is absurd. If even three of Russia's nuclear missiles worked properly, it would fuck up America so badly that we would seriously be at Mad Max levels except with less exciting action and more horrific prolonged deaths from radiation sickness and cancer.

There is absolutely no political objective that is worth risking nuclear war over.
  #40  
Old 07-21-2018, 12:45 AM
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Would you be relieved to know that “this is total speculation” referred to my impeachment scenario, and not your opinion?

I’m saying that World War III in which the President sides with the authoritarian aggressor would be the breaking point. I do not agree that there is zero breaking point.

Because Pence has NOT been in lockstep with Trump on NATO.

I thought it was a clever way to emphasize the point that Russia invading a NATO ally is a different situation than Russia invading a country that is not an ally. A fact you disregard.

Because seizing Crimea or the Georgia invasion carried little risk of World War III and no risk of nuclear war. That cannot be said of the Baltics.
You equate Putin moving on the Baltic states as an automatic start of WWIII. That means NATO would automatically respond with force to any move by Russia into those countries. In the world that existed prior to January 20, 2017 I would agree that would be the most likely outcome. Whether or not it would reach the level of nuclear war, I don't know.

The problem is, the world where such an act would result in WWIII doesn't exist anymore. We now live in a world where the POTUS is an individual who is hostile to NATO and the European countries who have been our historical allies. Trump's history, both in business or as President, has shown that he sees little need to honor contracts or treaties. He is convinced, as are many of his supporters both in Congress and in certain parts of the US, that these countries have taken advantage of the US over the last 70 years and given us little to nothing in return. Why would he feel the need to come to the defense of a NATO country rather than his good buddy Vlad? (Even if the Senate moved against him over something like turning his back on NATO, by the time they could get anything done it would be way too late. Impeachment and removal is not something that is likely to be done in an afternoon. And while there might be enough GOP Senators who would vote to convict in this scenario, I highly doubt there are enough votes to approve articles of impeachment in the House.)

This is exactly what Putin wants to see - NATO weakened or rendered impotent. If Putin can get friendly leaders in place in NATO member countries - Hungary and Poland are two obvious examples - then he is that much closer to seeing it implode. Now he has the President of the United States in his pocket, kowtowing to him at every opportunity and loath to do anything that might upset him.

If Putin can succeed at putting NATO in a state of disarray and disagreement on how to respond to his actions, then there is little to prevent him from doing what he wants anywhere, much less in the Baltics.

Last edited by Kolak of Twilo; 07-21-2018 at 12:47 AM.
  #41  
Old 07-21-2018, 01:01 AM
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I missed the edit window but realized after the fact I was mistaken to say the leader of Poland is friendly to Putin. Victor Orban in Hungary is undoubtedly a buddy of Vlad but I don't actually know that the same is true about Duda in Poland. I know there are a multitude of historic reasons for the Poles to distrust Russia.

However, the current Polish govt has definitely been moving in an authoritarian direction that is likely to lead to a conflict with the rest of NATO. I also have read a number accounts of the Polish extreme right being infiltrated by Russian agents. Hard to imagine this isn't part of Putin's plan to destabilize NATO.

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  #42  
Old 07-21-2018, 01:29 AM
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The problem is, the world where such an act would result in WWIII doesn't exist anymore.
A world where any act could ever possibly result in World War III, is not a world I want to live in.

I look at these pronouncements from members of the party that used to be anti-war, or at least more anti-war than the Republicans, and my jaw is just on the floor with the apparent desire of so many people to restart the Cold War, or just to turn it into a straight up Hot War.

We spent the past 20 years fucking up the Middle East beyond belief, in effect taking a chessboard - on which a game was being played by the regional powers, in an organized way - and knocking all of the pieces off the board and scattering them on the floor. But I guess that wasn't enough. Now we apparently need to do the same thing to another ongoing chess game, except in this one the Kings both happen to be fashioned from sticks of dynamite.

Believe it or not, there are other countries in the world besides the United States, and those countries have leaders and militaries and they are going to do shit that we might not like. Let's have some perspective please. This is NOT Hitler and Stalin. There's no genocide being committed, there aren't whole countries suffering from famine, the countries in question did not suffer an earlier horrific war just a few decades ago, the collective ideologies at play are nowhere near as destructive as either Nazism or Communism; what's going on in Eastern Europe is part of a long, ongoing historical continuum of territorial disputes and the idea that Russia would even invade the Baltics is still pure conjecture at this point.

There are also human beings involved in international diplomacy other than Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin. There are dozens or hundreds of people who have dedicated decades of their lives to civil service, foreign relations, negotiation, and generally "trying to work shit out without having to kill anyone", and they are operating behind the scenes here regardless of what the leaders of the countries may say.
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  #43  
Old 07-21-2018, 01:45 AM
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the idea that Russia would even invade the Baltics is still pure conjecture at this point.
Well...yes. That's the whole point of the thread. Velocity posted a hypothetical scenario, not a real one.

And in this hypothetical scenario, Russia started a literal shooting war.
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Old 07-21-2018, 02:24 AM
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Well...yes. That's the whole point of the thread. Velocity posted a hypothetical scenario, not a real one.

And in this hypothetical scenario, Russia started a literal shooting war.
I dunno. Its better then your hypothetical senario whereby the services sectors of the Western European countries magically don't evaporate at the start of war..........services sector which amount to a significant portions of differences in GDP you quoted. And somehow the planets largest country decides not to use it functionally limitless resources in a war. Or XT asseryion that the USAF and USN will be used in a peer war like they have been used against a third world country.

As it is I don't think the Russians will start a shooting war..........at least at first. They have proven themselves way more canny than that. Much more likely they forment unrest amongst minority populations and rely on good old E European racism to exacerbate the situation by hamfisted crackdowns. Now you have nice little ethnic insurgency in a NATO country and a NATO military having to surpress it, no doubt with lots of social media coverage of "oppression". Far more useful to the Russians than direct takeover
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Old 07-21-2018, 03:46 AM
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I dunno. Its better then your hypothetical senario
What hypothetical is that and how is it better than one I didn't propose ?

There is only one hypothetical in this thread - Velocity's OP. Everything is written in reaction to that.

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whereby the services sectors of the Western European countries magically don't evaporate at the start of war..........services sector which amount to a significant portions of differences in GDP you quoted.
Services sectors that mean combat units are properly maintained, you mean?

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And somehow the planets largest country decides not to use it functionally limitless resources in a war.
Oh, c'mon. Russia does not have limitless resources. Not even close. It's actually pretty damn limited and if it wasn't for oil the Russian economy would be an utter basket case - right now it represents ~40% of its federal budget revenue. That's a pretty vulnerable Achilles heel, even if China were to continue to let half of its exports through its pipelines.

This is not Gorbachev's Russia. The Russian military is still pretty good for what it is, but it is a shell of what it once was. You can say most NATO nations has indulged heavily in peace dividends post-Cold War, which is certainly true( Turkey and the U.S. being the two biggest exceptions ). But at least NATO can afford to properly maintain what they have left( and presumably what they have in storage/reserve ). Russia's military has shrunk massively as well and by all accounts cannot properly maintain anything beyond what equips a handful of first-rate units.

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As it is I don't think the Russians will start a shooting war..........at least at first.
Well, shoot - neither do I. It would be idiotic on their part. But we're not debating actual Russian geopolitical possibilities. Or at least I wasn't.

Velocity posits that Russia invades and overruns the Baltics before anyone can react. Then asks what do you do? That's the only question to be answered.

My answer(s) as above:
1.) You declare war( as in fact you are already in a state of war after the invasion of treaty allies )because there is no other politically and strategically acceptable choice.
2.) Russia IMHO will not resort to a nuclear solution over the Baltic states.
3.) NATO without the U.S. can eventually strangle Russia and Russia's current forces are quite inadequate to overrun Europe.
4.) NATO wouldn't be acting alone anyway because the United States would not sit out such a conflict started in that manner. And the US military substantially outbulks Russia all by its lonesome.

Now I could be wrong. But how often does that happen*?


* Rhetorical question only - no answer required .

Last edited by Tamerlane; 07-21-2018 at 03:47 AM.
  #46  
Old 07-21-2018, 04:32 AM
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What hypothetical is that and how is it better than one I didn't propose ?

There is only one hypothetical in this thread - Velocity's OP. Everything is written in reaction to that.

Fair enough

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Services sectors that mean combat units are properly maintained, you mean?
You kidding me? Money for maintaince is typically the first thing to be cut. The German military is is lousy shape, the French Air Force combat fleet is 50% grounded and the Polish military is of dubious quality,
The US Military, having spent a decade focused on Counter Insurgency is of the opinion that it ill-prepared and organized to fight large scale peer warfare.


Quote:
Oh, c'mon. Russia does not have limitless resources. Not even close. It's actually pretty damn limited and if it wasn't for oil the Russian economy would be an utter basket case - right now it represents ~40% of its federal budget revenue. That's a pretty vulnerable Achilles heel, even if China were to continue to let half of its exports through its pipelines.
Seriously? In a war they things that you need, food, fuel, raw materials and an industrial base are things the have in abudance whuile Europe imports a large quamtity of the first three from abroad. Including Russia.
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This is not Gorbachev's Russia. The Russian military is still pretty good for what it is, but it is a shell of what it once was. You can say most NATO nations has indulged heavily in peace dividends post-Cold War, which is certainly true( Turkey and the U.S. being the two biggest exceptions ). But at least NATO can afford to properly maintain what they have left( and presumably what they have in storage/reserve ). Russia's military has shrunk massively as well and by all accounts cannot properly maintain anything beyond what equips a handful of first-rate units.
Please read the above, the answers are i) They haven't, ii) the size of the cuts and refocus to CI means that they cannot and iii) As for Russia, your information is a decade and a half out of date.



Quote:
Well, shoot - neither do I. It would be idiotic on their part. But we're not debating actual Russian geopolitical possibilities. Or at least I wasn't.

Velocity posits that Russia invades and overruns the Baltics before anyone can react. Then asks what do you do? That's the only question to be answered.

My answer(s) as above:
1.) You declare war( as in fact you are already in a state of war after the invasion of treaty allies )because there is no other politically and strategically acceptable choice.
2.) Russia IMHO will not resort to a nuclear solution over the Baltic states.
3.) NATO without the U.S. can eventually strangle Russia and Russia's current forces are quite inadequate to overrun Europe.
4.) NATO wouldn't be acting alone anyway because the United States would not sit out such a conflict started in that manner. And the US military substantially outbulks Russia all by its lonesome.
1) Lots of example in history of countries dumping treaty allies at the time of war when conviniant. The US included.
2) I would be more worried about NATO than RUssia in that senario.
3) Has two answers one short and one long. Short is no and the long one is "hell no".
4) Depends on the area of the military.

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Now I could be wrong. But how often does that happen*?


* Rhetorical question only - no answer required .
Making mountains of heads tends to ensure that.
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Old 07-21-2018, 03:06 PM
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This talk about the readiness of Russia's nuclear arsenal is absurd. If even three of Russia's nuclear missiles worked properly, it would fuck up America so badly that we would seriously be at Mad Max levels except with less exciting action and more horrific prolonged deaths from radiation sickness and cancer.

There is absolutely no political objective that is worth risking nuclear war over.
Perhaps the point I was trying to make was unclear to you so I'll spell it out. Questions about the utility of the Russian nuclear arsenal would be a major factor in whether or not RUSSIA would decide to use their nukes first. Recall, this thread is about the Russian's invading the Baltic states which are all NATO allies. This would be a conventional war, presumably.

Consider...what you say is true, if even a fraction of Russia's nukes actually fly and work it will be devastating to the US. Now...what do you think the Russian's assessment of a probable US response would be, if, say we conjecture that at least half of the US nukes fly and work as designed? Think that might give them some pause, especially in light of their likely assessment of their own nukes? Just possibly?

See the point now?
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  #48  
Old 07-21-2018, 03:20 PM
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I dunno. Its better then your hypothetical senario whereby the services sectors of the Western European countries magically don't evaporate at the start of war..........services sector which amount to a significant portions of differences in GDP you quoted. And somehow the planets largest country decides not to use it functionally limitless resources in a war. Or XT asseryion that the USAF and USN will be used in a peer war like they have been used against a third world country.

As it is I don't think the Russians will start a shooting war..........at least at first. They have proven themselves way more canny than that. Much more likely they forment unrest amongst minority populations and rely on good old E European racism to exacerbate the situation by hamfisted crackdowns. Now you have nice little ethnic insurgency in a NATO country and a NATO military having to surpress it, no doubt with lots of social media coverage of "oppression". Far more useful to the Russians than direct takeover
Since this was addressed to me I might as well answer it as well. I actually didn't make such an 'asseryion' in this thread, but I'll cop to it anyway. Yeah...the US weapons and systems would be ever bit as good as the best Russia currently can field. It's interesting that you seem to disagree with this (well, not really...you have never been a fan of the US after all and tend to make light of their capabilities regularly). You seem to imply that the US is only good at fighting a 'third world country', so my first question to you is...what sort of combat experience does the Russian's have? They been fighting top tier nations recently? Last I can recall was some fighters over Vietnam, but feel free to reel off their vast practical experience.

Next up...that they have 'functionally limitless resources'. What do you base this on, exactly? Their military budget at the moment puts them only slightly ahead of the UK and Germany (individually). And this has pretty much been the case since the fall of the Soviet Union...they have been perennially cash strapped for decades, and when they were finally starting to get ahead economically their genius leader managed to get a bunch of sanctions put on his country for a place that's costing them money to keep and has added to the ill will and distrust much of the world feels towards Russia.

Even if we posit that somehow, magically, Putin is actually spending double that, it doesn't even put them up with China. True, they have a ton of old Soviet era crap. If we fantasize that, somehow that equipment has been kept in tip top condition for the last several decades, and that they somehow have sufficient trained troops to man it, and they have sufficient resources to fuel and support it, they will STILL be at the end of a long as logistics train that will be vulnerable to strikes from the NATO allies...not from the US alone, because that's the difference here. Even leaving aside that the US literally spends an order of magnitude more than the Russians have....for DECADES...you also have to factor in that, without the US, the UK and Germany alone spend more per year than Russia does. And that doesn't include France and Italy, who are also in the top 15 countries. Or the other NATO members. And, of course, the US will also be there. Even if you want to assert that the new generation of Russian military equipment is better than the US, something that's highly speculative, they don't have a 'limitless' amount of it.

The second paragraph just seems to be fighting the hypothetical, so I won't bother with that. I agree...Russia isn't going to risk war with NATO. They aren't going to attack the Baltic states. They don't even seem willing to risk the consequences (most likely mainly economic) to attack the Ukraine, which is not a NATO member. But this thread is about what happens if they do so anyway, despite the fact that they aren't stupid enough to try such a thing, even with the goofball we currently have as president.
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  #49  
Old 07-21-2018, 03:31 PM
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Fair enough


You kidding me? Money for maintaince is typically the first thing to be cut. The German military is is lousy shape, the French Air Force combat fleet is 50% grounded and the Polish military is of dubious quality,
The US Military, having spent a decade focused on Counter Insurgency is of the opinion that it ill-prepared and organized to fight large scale peer warfare.



Seriously? In a war they things that you need, food, fuel, raw materials and an industrial base are things the have in abudance whuile Europe imports a large quamtity of the first three from abroad. Including Russia.

Please read the above, the answers are i) They haven't, ii) the size of the cuts and refocus to CI means that they cannot and iii) As for Russia, your information is a decade and a half out of date.




1) Lots of example in history of countries dumping treaty allies at the time of war when conviniant. The US included.
2) I would be more worried about NATO than RUssia in that senario.
3) Has two answers one short and one long. Short is no and the long one is "hell no".
4) Depends on the area of the military.



Making mountains of heads tends to ensure that.
This wasn't addressed to me, but I'll give a short response. You are right...Germany's military is in poor shape. No doubt about it. And France has certainly cut back. But you might want to consider what the Russian spending over the last decade implies as well wrt force readiness. While Estonia is going to be a tough thing for NATO to take back, the Russian's holding down Lithuania or Latvia are going to be at the end of a very long and very vulnerable supply chain. Then there is Kaliningrad which the Russian's will also be strapped to hold and defend. I know you think the Russian's are some sort of supermen with 'unlimited' resources, but consider what it would actually take to not only attack and take those countries AND defend their own borders and airspace, but to then hold those countries in the face of NATO air strikes while their militaries mobilize. Russia, simply, does not have the combat power to project that sort of force AND support it in the face of 'peer' attacks, and even if you are under the impression that the Russian's are just better than everyone else there are only so many of them trained to do this and only so much of the top tier equipment that they actually have on hand or could realistically produce. That means that the bulk of their forces, even if we posit they COULD mobilize and utilize them, are going to be reserves in old Soviet era crap.

It will be a lot like Japan in the first world war. They will be able to initially have a lot of tactical success. And strategically, it's going to suck for them down the road, economically and militarily.
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  #50  
Old 07-21-2018, 04:54 PM
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This wasn't addressed to me, but I'll give a short response. You are right...Germany's military is in poor shape. No doubt about it.

Speaking as a Frenchman, I'm OK with that.
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