US security experts: Strategy to defend the Baltics needs to be overhauled

Troops from NATO Battlegroup Estonia participated in the Bold Dragon exercise on April 9-10. 2022.
Troops from NATO Battlegroup Estonia participated in the Bold Dragon exercise on April 9-10. 2022. Source: Marina Loštšina/

The Baltic defense strategy needs to be changed, and NATO needs to be prepared to defend the Baltic countries in the unlikely event of a Russian invasion, U.S. and Lithuanian experts told Lithuania's public broadcaster LRT.

Experts find the so-called Suwalki Gap to be the weakest link in Baltic defense strategy. Relevant risks have even increased as Russian troops are present not only in Kaliningrad Oblast but also Belarus.

Lithuanian military expert Darius Antanaitis said that closing the Suwalki corridor remains a simple task, while closing this narrow "bottleneck" between Belarus and Russia's Kaliningrad Oblast would make it impossible for NATO to move troops into the Baltic states over land. Antanaitis described the gap as problematic even if it is not seized, as it is likely to be filled with refugees who would seriously disrupt the movement of NATO troops in case of war.

Professor John R. Deni of the U.S. Strategic Studies Institute said that NATO needs to make a greater effort to defend the Baltics, especially considering the fact Russia has virtually annexed Belarus and is planning to station masses of offensive troops close to the Polish-Lithuanian border.

Deni said that the alliance should also change its deterrence posture in the Baltics, with allied presence in the Baltic countries necessary not only to deter a possible attack but also to deliver an initial blow should forces bent on occupation decide to attack.

Both Lithuanian and U.S. experts find that the war between Russia and Ukraine has yielded positive revelations such as the Russian army lacking modern technology.

Lithuania's Minister of Defense Arvydas Anušauskas said that the importance of the Suwalki corridor must not be overestimated. "Looking at Europe on a map, all three Baltic countries make for a gap," he said.


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Editor: Marcus Turovski

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