In the event of such a development, NATO forces would suffer severe damage including loss of human lives.
Washington: United States think tank the RAND corporation has issued a stark warning – Russia could invade eastern European nations Estonia and Latvia in under three days.
The RAND corporation said in a report that keeping in mind the current force structure in eastern Europe, Russia is capable of undermining NATO defenses in the Baltics and invade the two countries and be in their capitals Riga and Tallinn in just 60 hours.
In the event of such a development, the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) forces would suffer severe damage including loss of human lives. Even the available US air power would not be able to protect the NATO forces from the Russian aggression in such a scenario, unless nuclear weapons were used.
The report's release coincided with the US Secretary of Defense, Ash Carter's announcement that new resources are being sought to guard eastern European from any possible Russian invasion.
“As presently postured, NATO cannot successfully defend the territory of its most exposed members. Across multiple games using a wide range of expert participants in and out of uniform playing both sides, the longest it has taken Russian forces to reach the outskirts of the Estonian and/or Latvian capitals of Tallinn and Riga, respectively, is 60 hours. Such a rapid defeat would leave NATO with a limited number of options, all bad,” the report said.
And what's the solution? A costly one - approximately $3.7 billion per year.
“It is possible to avoid such consequences. A force of about seven brigades, including three heavy armoured brigades — adequately supported by air power, land-based fires, and other enablers on the ground and ready to fight at the onset of hostilities — could suffice to prevent the rapid overrun of the Baltic states. While not sufficient to mount a sustained defense of the region or to achieve NATO’s ultimate end state of restoring its members’ territorial integrity, such a posture would fundamentally change the strategic picture as seen from Moscow,” the RAND report stated.
The report warned the cost of not doing so would be even higher – in the form of loss of allies and a deteriorated security situation in Europe which would also pose a threat to the West.