Russia still can overrun the Baltic NATO countries in about 60 hours

In 2016, RAND wargamed scenarios which showed that Russia could overrun Latvia and Lithuania and Estonia in about 60 hours.

RAND has a 2018 analysis of how Russia is continuing to outmatch NATO and the USA in the Baltics.

Poland and the Baltic countries are increasing their armies by about 30%. Poland is getting old tanks from Germany and is modernizing them. Russia is also continuing to expand and modernize forces.

NATO has twenty times the GDP as Russia does. In the recent NATO meeting there was talk of spending an addition $33 billion on defense from European members of NATO. Buying 1000 new tanks would cost about $4-10 billion. Supporting the tank units would cost about $2-3 billion per year. Germany used to have 2000 tanks in the Cold War days but now Germany us about 200 and they are planning to ramp back up to about 350 tanks.

Russia could deploy approximately 150,000 personnel across maneuver, artillery, air, and naval forces in weeks to the Baltics, while the United States would require months to deploy a comparable offensive force across the Atlantic. The large-scale employment of Russian long-range fires would also seriously hamper NATO units’ movement to the area. Looking forward, Russia continues to expand its ground forces in the West. By 2020, Russia’s Western MD’s three armies will have grown to a total of three motor rifle divisions, three airborne divisions, a tank division, and four combined-arms brigades, as well as numerous other combat and supporting brigades. This will give Russia a starting force of about 26 maneuver brigades or regiments in the Western Military District. If achieved, this is about 44 percent more than the current level, even before considering the potential for reinforcement by additional troops from nine other armies in Russia’s three other military districts.

66 thoughts on “Russia still can overrun the Baltic NATO countries in about 60 hours”

  1. Russia has been working to get access to the ocean since Peter the Great – who built St Petersburg, the second largest city and largest port. But Estonia is only a few miles from St Petersburg, and they nearly lost access to their Crimean ports in the south when Ukraine went septic on them. It’s as though all the Confederate states seceded and allied with Russia, and Washington’s only Atlantic naval base had the Virginians, with a bit of help from the Russians, sitting on the entrance to Chesapeake Bay. They’ve also been invaded and thoroughly done over within living memory, whereas the US mainland hasn’t been invaded by foreign troops for two hundred years. Petersburg/Leningrad was blockaded for three years. Thousands were killed, including Putin’s older brother. In any case, when each side has nearly 7,000 nuclear warheads, the number of rifle brigades they bother fielding is rather academic.

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  2. Two fisted is he whose cause is just, but four fisted is he who gets his blow in fust.” One advantage Russia gets in these scenarios is first mover advantage. They have to be assumed to know exactly when and where the war starts, because they’re the aggressor.

    Reply
  3. Russia has been working to get access to the ocean since Peter the Great – who built St Petersburg the second largest city and largest port. But Estonia is only a few miles from St Petersburg and they nearly lost access to their Crimean ports in the south when Ukraine went septic on them. It’s as though all the Confederate states seceded and allied with Russia and Washington’s only Atlantic naval base had the Virginians with a bit of help from the Russians sitting on the entrance to Chesapeake Bay.They’ve also been invaded and thoroughly done over within living memory whereas the US mainland hasn’t been invaded by foreign troops for two hundred years. Petersburg/Leningrad was blockaded for three years. Thousands were killed including Putin’s older brother.In any case when each side has nearly 7000 nuclear warheads the number of rifle brigades they bother fielding is rather academic.

    Reply
  4. Two fisted is he whose cause is just” but four fisted is he who gets his blow in fust.””One advantage Russia gets in these scenarios is first mover advantage. They have to be assumed to know exactly when and where the war starts”””” because they’re the aggressor.”””

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  5. Except that during the Cold War that was all of Western Europe, not just the Baltics, and it was the Soviet Union, whose armor force was substantially larger. If by “all I’m seeing” you mean an entirely new and different analysis, then yes.

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  6. That’s why the other NATO nations are terrified that the US might ever leave NATO. Without it they have no teeth. Hell the Germans can’t keep any planes in the air or ships and subs at sea.

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  7. The Eastern front should be armored with the best missile defense and other high tech capabilities to thwart the Russian threat. The US should have a hand in this.

    Reply
  8. That would be Putin’s goal – use the Baltics as a means of destroying NATO. In desperate straits, the Russians might see utility in an honest-to-God invasion if they’re pretty confident that NATO won’t/can’t intervene and even with the invocation of Article V it will be a done deal, and neither Europe nor the US would actually consider nukes to protect the Baltics. I still think that is unlikely, and Russia will pursue deniable hybrid warfare.

    Reply
  9. I doubt we’d ever see a ‘hot’ war in the Baltics. At worst, a ‘warm’ war in the same vein as Ukraine, with deniable Russian involvement. If the Baltic countries can be overrun or divided without intervention of NATO and invocation of Article V, NATO is simply a dead man walking.

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  10. During the first cold war, we always knew that a Soviet attack across the North German Plain with Soviet vertical envelopment of critical locations behind the lines, could be resisted for a time but not defeated. At some point we would have to have tactical nuclear weapons. All I am seeing in this article is that we can give the diplomats 48 hours before we go nuclear.

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  11. Except that during the Cold War that was all of Western Europe not just the Baltics and it was the Soviet Union whose armor force was substantially larger. If by all I’m seeing”” you mean an entirely new and different analysis”””” then yes.”””

    Reply
  12. That’s why the other NATO nations are terrified that the US might ever leave NATO. Without it they have no teeth. Hell the Germans can’t keep any planes in the air or ships and subs at sea.

    Reply
  13. The Eastern front should be armored with the best missile defense and other high tech capabilities to thwart the Russian threat. The US should have a hand in this.

    Reply
  14. That would be Putin’s goal – use the Baltics as a means of destroying NATO. In desperate straits the Russians might see utility in an honest-to-God invasion if they’re pretty confident that NATO won’t/can’t intervene and even with the invocation of Article V it will be a done deal and neither Europe nor the US would actually consider nukes to protect the Baltics. I still think that is unlikely and Russia will pursue deniable hybrid warfare.

    Reply
  15. I doubt we’d ever see a ‘hot’ war in the Baltics. At worst a ‘warm’ war in the same vein as Ukraine with deniable Russian involvement. If the Baltic countries can be overrun or divided without intervention of NATO and invocation of Article V NATO is simply a dead man walking.

    Reply
  16. During the first cold war we always knew that a Soviet attack across the North German Plain with Soviet vertical envelopment of critical locations behind the lines could be resisted for a time but not defeated. At some point we would have to have tactical nuclear weapons. All I am seeing in this article is that we can give the diplomats 48 hours before we go nuclear.

    Reply
  17. Just an observation. Germany overran most of Europe during World War II and lost. To win a war you not only have to gain territory but you have to hold it until the enemy loses all hope. When you are one-tenth the population and one-tenth the economy I wish you luck because you are going to need it.

    Reply
  18. The Baltics have a common lack of armor, which will take a long time to become operational should they buy German Leopards. But a Brigade each of Leopards would make a significant difference. In the short term, exercises with A-10s and a commitment to deploy them quickly will fill that gap. Their strengths are light infantry, and knowledge of the territory.

    Reply
  19. I could kick in a 90yo woman’s door and vandalize her house. Then the police would show up, remove me, and put me in prison for a long long time.

    Reply
  20. Just an observation. Germany overran most of Europe during World War II and lost. To win a war you not only have to gain territory but you have to hold it until the enemy loses all hope. When you are one-tenth the population and one-tenth the economy I wish you luck because you are going to need it.

    Reply
  21. The Baltics have a common lack of armor which will take a long time to become operational should they buy German Leopards. But a Brigade each of Leopards would make a significant difference. In the short term exercises with A-10s and a commitment to deploy them quickly will fill that gap. Their strengths are light infantry and knowledge of the territory.

    Reply
  22. I could kick in a 90yo woman’s door and vandalize her house. Then the police would show up remove me and put me in prison for a long long time.

    Reply
  23. Think the person who wrote this piece did his homework but he does not know excrement from shoe polish. Vlad the E-mailer does not have the logistic capability to support a 60 day invasion. He must have beans, bullets and gas to sustain an attack. Further , it would be dumb of him to risk killing US, UK, Canadian and Belgian troops. And, there are soldiers from Romania, Norway and the Netherlands in the theater also. Am sure he’d have his hands full with the soldiers of the baltic countries besides. Don’t think the Russians have ever attacked a NATO country. The author may think he is the smartest boy in the room but not so.

    Reply
  24. Think the person who wrote this piece did his homework but he does not know excrement from shoe polish. Vlad the E-mailer does not have the logistic capability to support a 60 day invasion. He must have beans bullets and gas to sustain an attack. Further it would be dumb of him to risk killing US UK Canadian and Belgian troops. And there are soldiers from Romania Norway and the Netherlands in the theater also. Am sure he’d have his hands full with the soldiers of the baltic countries besides. Don’t think the Russians have ever attacked a NATO country. The author may think he is the smartest boy in the room but not so.

    Reply
  25. 1) Canada is HUGE. So no, 11hours is ridiculous. 2) We already ‘own’ Canada. While Russia does not for the Baltics, Poland, Northeastern Romania, etc.

    Reply
  26. 1) Canada is HUGE. So no 11hours is ridiculous.2) We already ‘own’ Canada. While Russia does not for the Baltics Poland Northeastern Romania etc.

    Reply
  27. Think the person who wrote this piece did his homework but he does not know excrement from shoe polish. Vlad the E-mailer does not have the logistic capability to support a 60 day invasion. He must have beans, bullets and gas to sustain an attack. Further , it would be dumb of him to risk killing US, UK, Canadian and Belgian troops. And, there are soldiers from Romania, Norway and the Netherlands in the theater also. Am sure he’d have his hands full with the soldiers of the baltic countries besides. Don’t think the Russians have ever attacked a NATO country. The author may think he is the smartest boy in the room but not so.

    Reply
  28. The Baltics have a common lack of armor, which will take a long time to become operational should they buy German Leopards. But a Brigade each of Leopards would make a significant difference. In the short term, exercises with A-10s and a commitment to deploy them quickly will fill that gap. Their strengths are light infantry, and knowledge of the territory.

    Reply
  29. Just an observation. Germany overran most of Europe during World War II and lost. To win a war you not only have to gain territory but you have to hold it until the enemy loses all hope. When you are one-tenth the population and one-tenth the economy I wish you luck because you are going to need it.

    Reply
  30. Except that during the Cold War that was all of Western Europe, not just the Baltics, and it was the Soviet Union, whose armor force was substantially larger. If by “all I’m seeing” you mean an entirely new and different analysis, then yes.

    Reply
  31. That’s why the other NATO nations are terrified that the US might ever leave NATO. Without it they have no teeth. Hell the Germans can’t keep any planes in the air or ships and subs at sea.

    Reply
  32. The Eastern front should be armored with the best missile defense and other high tech capabilities to thwart the Russian threat. The US should have a hand in this.

    Reply
  33. That would be Putin’s goal – use the Baltics as a means of destroying NATO. In desperate straits, the Russians might see utility in an honest-to-God invasion if they’re pretty confident that NATO won’t/can’t intervene and even with the invocation of Article V it will be a done deal, and neither Europe nor the US would actually consider nukes to protect the Baltics. I still think that is unlikely, and Russia will pursue deniable hybrid warfare.

    Reply
  34. I doubt we’d ever see a ‘hot’ war in the Baltics. At worst, a ‘warm’ war in the same vein as Ukraine, with deniable Russian involvement. If the Baltic countries can be overrun or divided without intervention of NATO and invocation of Article V, NATO is simply a dead man walking.

    Reply
  35. During the first cold war, we always knew that a Soviet attack across the North German Plain with Soviet vertical envelopment of critical locations behind the lines, could be resisted for a time but not defeated. At some point we would have to have tactical nuclear weapons. All I am seeing in this article is that we can give the diplomats 48 hours before we go nuclear.

    Reply
  36. Russia has been working to get access to the ocean since Peter the Great – who built St Petersburg, the second largest city and largest port. But Estonia is only a few miles from St Petersburg, and they nearly lost access to their Crimean ports in the south when Ukraine went septic on them. It’s as though all the Confederate states seceded and allied with Russia, and Washington’s only Atlantic naval base had the Virginians, with a bit of help from the Russians, sitting on the entrance to Chesapeake Bay.
    They’ve also been invaded and thoroughly done over within living memory, whereas the US mainland hasn’t been invaded by foreign troops for two hundred years. Petersburg/Leningrad was blockaded for three years. Thousands were killed, including Putin’s older brother.
    In any case, when each side has nearly 7,000 nuclear warheads, the number of rifle brigades they bother fielding is rather academic.

    Reply
  37. “Two fisted is he whose cause is just, but four fisted is he who gets his blow in fust.”

    One advantage Russia gets in these scenarios is first mover advantage. They have to be assumed to know exactly when and where the war starts, because they’re the aggressor.

    Reply

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