WANTED: A THOUSAND BALTIC AMERICAN PATRIOTS TO ASK THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES, THE SECRETARY OF DEFENSE, THE SECRETARY OF STATE AND THE CHAIRMAN OF THE SENATE ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE TO DEPLOY NATO TROOPS PERMANENTLY TO THE BALTIC COUNTRIES.
“The Baltic States of Estonia Latvia and Lithuania are the West Berlin of the new Cold War–the symbolic vital front line of the free world. Their security depends on their fortitude in the face of the propaganda and subversion of Vladimir Putin’s Kremlin, and on the willpower of the West if Russia’s aggression escalates in military confrontation.” Edward Lucas (The Wall Street Journal 5/22/15).
“In a recent article urging Russia to undertake a ’preventive occupation‘ of the Baltic nations, Rostislav Ishchenko, a political analyst close to influential nationalist figures in Moscow, asserted that Latgale’s separate identity could help open the way for a ‘revision’ of Baltic borders.” Andrew Higgins (International New York Times 5/20/15).
“The [Ukraine] war poses the greatest threat to European security since World War II, and we shouldn’t take it lightly, and we shouldn’t be idle, and we shouldn’t sit back, and we shouldn’t let other countries tell us what to do.” Eliot Engel, Ranking Member House Foreign Affairs Committee (3/24/14).
“The Baltic States may experience attempts at coercion, intimidation, and incursion during the coming years due to their location, history, and the importance of the region for Moscow.” James Haasik and Magnus Nordenman (Modernizing Baltic Land Forces, 4/2015).
Russia has achieved its goals in Ukraine. It has shown it can destroy the European security order dating back to the Helsinki agreements of 1975. It has repudiated the Budapest Memorandum and the United Nations Charter. To Russia, these promises are considered as worthless papers. That opens the road for Russia‘s invasion of the Baltic countries. And that is a tempting prize for the Kremlin.
The Russian attack on Ukraine and instances of aggressive and threatening behavior against the Baltic countries have confirmed their concerns about the fragility of their security environment. Russian military activity on land, air, and sea has been provocative, intimidating and even dangerous. The Baltic Sea states and Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania in particular, have become focal points for an aggressive Russia determined to re-establish itself as a significant power by shattering the NATO security order.
As a means to assure the Baltic countries of NATO’s support in case of Russian attack, NATO has created a modest rapid reaction force, increased air policing and sea patrols, expanded joint training and exercise programs and has deployed small numbers of soldiers to Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. NATO plans require Poland to take the brunt of reinforcing the Baltic countries by deploying a third of the Polish army there in case of an attack by Russia. These actions taken by NATO, however, are inadequate to the scope, scale and seriousness of the situation the Baltic countries face.
The overriding question is whether NATO can respond adequately and in time to the security needs of its most exposed members–the Baltic countries. Recently, soldiers from the 173rd Airborne Brigade in Germany were deployed to the Baltic countries and Poland. It took them 96 hours–4 days to get in position. And it took British fighter planes participating in the maneuvers, flying off Polish airfields, 18 hours to get in the air. That is too slow! It will not do.
THE NEW REACTION FORCE IS A WEAK “ERSATZ” SUBSTITUTE FOR PERMANENT TROOPS IN POSITION. ONLY U.S. AND WESTERN SOLDIERS PERMANENTLY STATIONED IN THE BALTIC COUNTRIES WILL ESTABLISH A CREDIBLE GUARANTEE THAT NATO WILL DEFEND THEM IN CASE OF RUSSIAN INTRUSION.
The Ministers of Defense of the three Baltic countries in a joint letter to the Supreme NATO Allied Commander Europe have asked that NATO combat troops be deployed in their nations, as a credible deterrent against an increasingly assertive and threatening Russia. In their request, the Ministers asked for a brigade sized unit to be deployed in the three countries. A NATO brigade typically numbers around 3000 soldiers and is made up of three or more battalions. Poland made a similar request.
The Commander of NATO troops in Europe, General Philip Breedlove, told the House Armed Services Committee: “There is simply no substitute for our forward force presence in Europe. It is the bedrock of our ability to assure our allies to deter real and potential adversaries. Rotating presence is no substitute for permanent force presence.”
While General Breedlove wants to discuss the ground troops option, the Germans, the French, the Italians and others are absolutely opposed to permanent deployment of combat units in the Baltic countries. German Chancellor Merkel maintains that deployment of NATO forces on the territory of the Eastern member countries would violate the 1997 NATO-Russian Founding Act, which sets out a road map for cooperation between the two sides, even though Russia itself has nullified the agreement by invading Ukraine and by annexing Crimea.
The United States will play a major role in assessing the request. Therefore, we urge you to contact President Barack Obama and the officials listed below to ask them to honor the Baltic request.
The officials to contact, in order of importance are:
-President Barack Obama (202) 456-1414, www.whitehouse.gov
-Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter (703) 692-7100, www.defense.gov
-Secretary of State John Kerry, (202) 647-5291, www.state.gov
-Chairman Senate Armed Services Committee John McCain (202) 224-2235, Fax: (202) 228-2862, McCain.senate.gov
-Ranking Member Sen. Armed. Serv. Committee Jack Reed (202) 224-4642, Fax: (202) 224-4680, Reed,senate.gov
Let me make one thing very clear: ten or twenty contacts will not do. Every one of us has to participate in the effort to significantly improve the defense of the Baltic countries. Whether you call or write, or do both, be brief and to the point. Four or five sentences will do. And do it today!
Valdis V. Pavlovskis
P.S. In 1938, another dictator named Adolf Hitler invaded Czechoslovakia and said he was invading the Sudetenland to protect ethnic Germans. Putin said the same thing about Crimea. Hitler got away with it in 1938, and there were people who said, Well you know, if we just give Hitler the Sudetenland he’ll be happy. He’ll be content. He’ll leave us alone. His aggression will stop. Some people today are saying the same thing. Just give Putin Crimea. Just give him a little bit of Ukraine and he’ll be happy. And he and Merkel will continue to trade happily ever after.