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Putin attacking Baltics - scaremongering or a real danger?

As Nato decides to establish a command unit in Estonia, former chief warns that Putin could attack Baltic states.

Former Nato secretary general Anders Fogh Rasmussen has warned that the Russian president Vladimir Putin could mastermind a hybrid attack on a Baltic state to test whether Nato would mobilise.

According to Rasmussen, the Kremlin’s true goal is to shatter Nato solidarity and reassert Russian dominance over Eastern Europe.

“This is not about Ukraine. Putin wants to restore Russia to its former position as a great power,” he told The Telegraph, a major British daily.

“There is a high probability that he will intervene in the Baltics to test Nato’s Article 5,” Rasmussen added.

“Putin knows that if he crosses the red line and attacks a Nato ally, he will be defeated. Let us be quite clear about that. But he is a specialist in hybrid warfare,” he said.

By hybrid warfare, Rasmussen meant a scenario similar to what happened in Crimea and Eastern Ukraine where armed military in green uniforms, but without any specific insignia, appeared and just annexed the areas. It has been speculated that Putin’s regime could attempt to repeat a similar plot in Estonia or Latvia, both with large Russian minorities.

In a growing line of worrying messages, a renowned American political analyst Paul Goble wrote last week in the Jamestown Foundation website that according to Aleksandr Sytin, a former Russian analyst of RISI, the Russian Institute of Strategic Research, a group of analysts at RISI are proposing that Russia replace Belarusian president Alexander Lukashenko with someone more willing to support the Moscow’s policies and then move to restore the Russian Empire within its pre-1914 borders.

Goble concludes that as the named think tank is close to Putin and was one of the masterminds behind Russian Federation’s invasion of Ukraine, Lukashenko would be justified to worry in the near term, and the leaders of all the countries that were once part of the Russian Empire, including Estonia, may need to worry as well.

In light of the security concerns of the Baltic states and Poland, the Nato defense ministers decided in a Brussels meeting on Thursday to form a new fast reaction force, ‘Spearhead Force’, within the organization.

“This very high readiness force will consist of a land brigade of around 5,000 troops. These will be supported by air, sea and special forces,” Jens Stoltenberg, the current Nato secretary-general said.

In good news to Estonia, the defense ministers decided to immediately establish six command and control units in Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Romania.

“If a crisis arises, they will ensure that national and NATO forces from across the Alliance are able to act as one from the start. They will make rapid deployment easier. Support planning for collective defence. And help coordinate training and exercises,” Stoltenberg said.

Editor: S. Tambur

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