A major European war could start here – NRK Urix – Foreign news and documentaries

A major European war could start here – NRK Urix – Foreign news and documentaries

It has long been claimed that the land area known as the “Suwalki Corridor” is among NATO’s weakest points.

In documents leaked from the German armed forces It describes a scenario that begins with significant Russian progress in Ukraine. It ends with a Russian attack on Lithuania and Poland.

They also estimate a time for this: the summer of 2025. Such an attack could lead to a major war in Europe with Russia and Belarus on the one hand and NATO on the other.

There are about 66 kilometers between Belarus and Russia (Kaliningrad) through the area known as the Suwalki Corridor.

The land area is part of Lithuania and Poland

The scenario envisioned by the German authorities is first for the Russians to move their forces to Kaliningrad and Belarus.

Russian forces could then come from both sides. Although NATO may have moved its forces closer, the attack itself could occur very quickly.

This would give Russia a land supply line to the ice-free naval base at Baltigsk. At the same time, land communication from the Baltics to the rest of Europe was cut off.

It will change the map of Europe. But it would also likely trigger Article 5 of the NATO Statute, since Poland and the Baltics are NATO countries. Therefore, this could be the beginning of a major war.

But is this really possible?

NATO is superior

First, there is no doubt that Russia is completely inferior to NATO in terms of military power.

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NATO countries have approx. 7.6 million troops to boot. The figures for Russia are more uncertain, but the global statistical agency statistics Russia is estimated to have just under 3.6 million.

When it comes to equipment, the difference becomes even more noticeable.

The same statistics indicate that NATO may have more than four times the number of combat aircraft and five times the number of helicopters.

Norwegian air defense system NASAMS is wanted in Ukraine. It can effectively repel missile and drone attacks from Russia. Norway has promised to deliver more aid, but this alone does not cover Ukraine's needs.

Photo: Ingrid Lindgaard Stranden/NRK

But of course all this equipment is not ready in Suwalki Pass all the time. There are other parts of NATO that must be protected as well. In addition, countries also need to have equipment to defend their country.

Another question is how many soldiers Russia can recruit. German intelligence believes it can put 200,000 soldiers in place over the next year. To achieve this, the age limit for who can serve in the Russian army was raised to 65 years for soldiers and 70 years for officers.

Russian soldiers

Pictures of Russian soldiers in Crimea. It is difficult to estimate their number and number with certainty.

Photography: Alexey Pavlishak – Reuters

Ukrainian media also claim that young people between the ages of 16 and 18 are being recruited into the Russian army. This has not been confirmed by independent sources.

Hybrid warfare and propaganda

It is also possible that the attack on the Baltic states will not begin “the old way.” Most likely, there will be large-scale cyberattacks first.

This may involve misleading information and deliberate propaganda. It is particularly directed at the countries' ethnic Russian population. The goal may be to change people's attitudes about the war and get more people to support Russia.

When you look at the massive support the Baltic states provide to Ukraine, it seems unlikely that Russia can change anyone's mind through propaganda and disinformation.

Saber

The Russian attack on the Baltics will likely begin with different types of hybrid warfare. For example, the spread of misinformation and propaganda.

Photo: Dee Keane/Getty Images/iStockPhoto

But it can be enough to spark unrest or controversy. For example, by spreading the message that Russian speakers and ethnic Russians are treated disrespectfully in the Baltic states.

Such scenarios are very common for intelligence services in various countries. This does not mean that this is necessarily a likely outcome.

First, Russia has spent enormous resources in Ukraine over the past two years. It is of course known in Moscow that NATO is superior to them in terms of personnel and material.

The benefit it would provide must also be assessed, but not least the cost of controlling the Suwalki Corridor. Then one should not forget the question: Does Russia have anything to gain by waging a war there – when 32 NATO countries are involved?

It's definitely difficult to answer.

Crossing the border between Russia and Lithuania

An old border crossing between Lithuania and Russia in the Suwalki Pass. Could this be the place where a major European war begins?

Photo: Joachim Rygstad/No

Concern for the United States and the European Union

But if you look at the situation in both the United States and the European Union at the same time, there may be greater cause for concern.

There is, for example, unrest over whether the United States will change its policy in Ukraine If Donald Trump is elected president this fall.

There is also a sense of unease linked to the fact that a number of far-right and left-wing parties in Europe may make significant progress in the EU elections this summer. They could pressure the EU to reduce aid to Ukraine as well.

U.S. Congress

The US Congress spent half a year passing an aid package for Ukraine. The wait may cost those fighting Russia dearly.

Photo: AP

There are already trends that Ukrainians' access to weapons limits their ability to defend themselves. Not the least of which is countering Russian advances in Ukraine.

It took half a year to get an aid package for Ukraine through the US Congress. The outside wing of the Republican Party was able to obstruct the decision month after month.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky went so far as to say that Ukraine would lose the war if this package was not adopted.

Concern in the Baltics

If this trend continues, it could mean a major Russian advance in Ukraine. This will certainly mean changes in the course of the war.

Obviously, it depends on how much progress has been made and to what extent and for how long Ukraine will be able to resist.

But if you look at the situation in our immediate region, it is difficult to conclude otherwise that a complete Russian victory in Ukraine would mean a significant deterioration in security, both in the Nordics and the Baltics.

Russian President Vladimir Putin

What happens if Vladimir Putin feels his military forces are about to defeat Ukraine? Some scenarios can disturb the sleep of a fair number of people – also in our local area.

Photo: Reuters

Because in the wake of a possible Russian victory in Ukraine, one will also get an answer about whether it was only Ukraine that Russian President Vladimir Putin was interested in. Or whether the plans are bigger and more frightening.

At this point, one cannot rule out an attack, which would likely start with the Baltic states.

History weighs

Although Putin has stated that A The new Soviet Union is not the goal of the warOne does not feel that one can be excluded. Especially in the Baltic countries.

Not more than 33 years have passed since they were able to secede from the Soviet Union after more than 50 years of occupation.

Baltic

The naval base at Baltigsk in Kaliningrad is ice-free and an important port for Russia's Baltic Fleet for more than 300 years.

Photograph: Maxim Shemetov/Reuters

Therefore, the answer from almost everyone you meet, especially in the border areas with Russia and Belarus, is the same. Here in the Baltics, they are somewhat concerned about the war.

They know that Russia is capable of quickly moving its forces to Belarus and Kaliningrad. It reaches the borders with Estonia and Latvia.

They fear that the NATO operation will take a long time and may not succeed. Maybe the Russians will get a head start before NATO takes over. It could turn into a long-term conflict.

But it's not as if people here are constantly wandering around looking for Russian fighter planes or listening to cannon fire. But they fear once again having to live with and under war.

Vilnius demonstration

Opposition to Russia was strong in the Baltic states. In 2014, many took to the streets to demonstrate against Russia's occupation of Crimea and Donbass.

Photo: Mindaugas Colbis/AP

This fear has nothing to do with the present, but it does not diminish the fact that the desire to support Ukraine appears to be diminishing in many places.

Basically, the worry is that history will repeat itself.

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04/22/2024 at 15.13


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Jabori Obasanjo

Jabori Obasanjo

"Coffee trailblazer. Certified pop culture lover. Infuriatingly humble gamer."

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