mercredi 15 octobre 2008

Defending the Baltic States?

My feeling is that the three Baltic states are more important for Russia than for any other big power or bloc of states, including the NATO. For Russia, this region is a buffer zone helping to defend Russia proper. Historically, the most serious adversaries of the Russians in this regions were two former big powers -- Sweden and Poland, but neither of them has now any chance of confronting Russia for its influence here. And Germany is also not a player in this game any more, having lost its bridgehead in former East Prussia. Thus, if there is a really serious confrontation between Russia and "the West" in some form, the Baltic states are most probably too difficult and costly to defend. Even the Wehrmacht command understood this and decided to abandon Estonia to defend Central and Western Europe. The decision to evacuate Estonia was probably taken by the military before they could convince Hitler of its necessity. And, as we know, Hitler considered the Allied invasion in the West a bigger threat than losing territory in the East. Although he was never happy with retreats anywhere. The result was that a big German force was encircled by the rapidly advancing Red Army in Curland and remained there until the capitulation in May 1945. To cover their retreat, the Germans mobilized local men and used a motley force of SS-volunteers from Scandinavia and Western Europe who succeeded in slowing the advancing Red Army until the Wehrmacht had evacuated most of their personnel and heavy equipment. Then, the local foot soldiers were just left alone with no hope to stop the Soviet forces. My feeling is that such a scenario can well be reenacted in future too. The Estonians, Latvians and Lithuanians must keep this in mind.

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