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Friday, July 22, 2016

The Real Reason for the NATO Build-up in Poland and the Baltic States

Poland must target Kaliningrad, Moscow Metro & RT to deter Russian invasion – think tank

FILE PHOTO Members of Poland's special commando unit Lubliniec participate in the "Noble Sword-14" NATO international tactical exercise at the land forces training centre in Oleszno, near Drawsko Pomorskie, northwest Poland September 9, 2014 © Kacper Pempel
FILE PHOTO Members of Poland's special commando unit Lubliniec participate in the "Noble Sword-14" NATO international tactical exercise at the land forces training centre in Oleszno, near Drawsko Pomorskie, northwest Poland September 9, 2014 © Kacper Pempel / Reuters

You should know that this report comes from RT (Russia Today), a state-run news outlet. Nevertheless, it has some excellent information that you should be aware of.

Russia is unpredictable and may attack the Baltic states and Poland at any moment, so Warsaw should strengthen its military and be prepared to hit the city of Kaliningrad with missiles and shut down RT, a think tank with close ties to NATO has said.

Called ‘Arming for Deterrence’, the 25-page document released by the US-based Atlantic Council says what NATO in general and Poland in particular should do to “counter a resurgent Russia.” The threat of such an attack is imminent, the report states.

Even if Moscow currently has no immediate intent to challenge NATO directly, this may unexpectedly change overnight and can be implemented with great speed, following already prepared plans. The capability to do so is, to a large extent, in place,” the report warns.

"Even if Moscow..." would seem to imply that the think tank is not aware of any such plans. Nevertheless, it feels the need for Warsaw to spend kazillions of dollars buying American-made weapons. I wonder where the funding for the Atlantic Council comes from? I wonder if its members have any shares in weapons manufacturers? Not that I think they may be the least bit disingenuous.

I don't doubt that there needs to be a deterrent to keep Russia from re-absorbing the Baltic States. Putin is ambitious and would love to see Russia return to the power and influence of its 'glory days' under communism. But as in communist days there is a certain paranoia that the west wants to invade and/or destroy Russia. It was fed by the KGB and their predecessors for the purpose of empire building - making the KGB enormously large and powerful. I think it is extremely unwise to feed that paranoia.

The council says a Russian invasion cannot be predicted as it could be triggered by anything from NATO being “distracted by another crisis” to Moscow’s “misperception of NATO’s activities and a miscalculation of the Alliance’s resolve.”

While being unpredictable, “Russia rarely disguises its true intentions,” according to the report. “On the contrary, it has proclaimed them very publicly on various occasions, but, in general, the West has chosen not to believe Russia’s declarations and disregards its willingness to carry them out.”

If Russia does invade, the alliance would be slow to respond, and Russia would try to achieve a fait accompli and use nuclear deterrence to prevent a full-scale war. The goal of Poland as the biggest NATO member close to Russia would be “to delay and bog down an invading force and inflict unacceptable damage on it,” according to the Atlantic Council.

“[NATO] force [in Poland] is not required to win the war, but it must be able to fight alongside the host-nation forces to buy NATO more time for reinforcement. NATO’s presence in the region is currently not large enough to achieve this,” the report said.

Swift reforms are needed if Poland wishes to be able to deter Russia, the report says, suggesting a number of measures for Warsaw to take. Many of them are focused on the Polish military and involves strengthening its numbers and purchasing modern new weapons, such as the US-made JASSM aircraft-launched cruise missiles, which could hit targets deep inside Russia, or the coastal NSM missiles, which can be placed in range of the Russian city of Kaliningrad.

Poland should also procure more multiple rocket launchers, attack helicopters, UAVs and other weapons, the report adds. These efforts would require streamlining the procurement process so that purchases were not stalled by Polish red tape, the report suggests.

All this spending would not allow Poland to withstand the hypothetical Russian onslaught, the report says, so the country should prepare its military for a guerrilla war by building a network of shelters in its wooded areas.

This reads almost like an infomercial. "You should spend half the country's GDP buying American weapons... they won't save you, but we'll make lots of money!"

“This shelter or bunker network, built with significant redundancies, would facilitate the deployment of ‘stay behind’ units. Poland’s military tradition in forest-based guerrilla warfare dates back to the 1830s. More recently, forest units resisted the Germans and Soviets from 1939 to the 1950s,” the council said.

Poland should also make several policy statements, according to the think tank. It should “aim to join the tactical nuclear capability scheme within NATO, so enabling its F-16s to be carriers of tactical nuclear ordnance”. It should also announce targets for potential cyber offensive operations, “which could include the Moscow metro, the St. Petersburg power network, and Russian state-run media outlets such as RT.”

Other advice from the Atlantic Council includes undermining any efforts by the EU to create its own military force, as it would switch resources to it from NATO.

“Any weakening of NATO cannot be countenanced, especially at this political juncture, and particularly with a putative British exit from the EU weakening the Union’s collective military posture outside of NATO,” the report said.

After the fall of the Iron Curtain and the collapse of communism which effectively brought an end to the Cold War, people began to question the need for NATO. Suddenly, a war popped up in Bosnia and NATO was in there like a dirty shirt. The questions regarding NATO's usefulness went away, and the billions (trillions?) of dollars spent on supporting it continued to flow to militaries and arms manufacturers when it could have been put to good use elsewhere.

It's curious why an American think-tank would try to discourage the formation of an EU military which would replace NATO. It could save the US an enormous amount of money. But then, the EU military would be more inclined to buy their weapons from Germany and France. Is this all becoming clear now?

Warsaw should also “find new incentives for its citizens to remain in Poland rather than emigrate to other EU countries,” the document said, adding that “Emigration has reduced Poland’s defense capacity by draining people of military age, often with the technical and information technology (IT) skills that Poland’s forces require.”

Poland and the Baltic states are among the more vocal advocates of an increased NATO military presence close to the Russian border, saying it is needed to deter alleged Russian aggression. The alliance agreed at a summit in Warsaw earlier in July to place additional rotating troops and hardware in Poland and the Baltic States, as well as to step up naval presence in the Black Sea and the Baltic Sea.

Russia denies having any intent to attack NATO and says the alliance is trying to justify its existence by drumming up anti-Russian rhetoric. Russia considers NATO’s military buildup in Europe a threat to its national security and accuses the West of reneging on a post-Cold War promise not to enlarge the alliance towards Russia’s borders.