Report: Biggest military conflict danger in Baltics arises from Russia's misconceptions

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According to the Estonian Information Board (EIB) the biggest danger of a conflict arising in the Baltic countries derives from the Russian administration's misconceptions.

Estonia's foreign intelligence agency said in its first public report presented on Wednesday that Estonia is not a priority for Russia's military planning. Instead, its priority areas include Kaliningrad, the Kola operational direction (the Arctic) and, since 2014, Ukraine.

«The biggest threat of a military conflict in the Baltic countries arises from the Kremlin's misconceptions which may be based on its distorted perception of threats from the Western strategic direction, including the Baltics. Also, Russia views Europe as a single entity and takes it into consideration in relation to developments in other regions. Thus, conflicts in Ukraine or the Arctic may spill over to the Baltic states as well,» the agency writes in its yearbook.

«Although Estonia is not a military priority for Russia, use of military force here cannot be ruled out. For instance, Russia may use military force when its armed forces fail to respond adequately to a NATO-Russia conflict in another region. By creating a conflict in the Baltics, Russia would attempt to gain a stronger position for talks following the armed conflict,» it is written in the yearbook.

EIB stressed that in a situation of conflict Russia will consider the Baltic Sea region as a single entity, and Moscow will not respect any country's neutrality should war erupt.

«Russia views the Baltic countries as the NATO support area that is the most difficult to protect, and as a source of constant threat to Russia's security. Russia estimates that NATO may deploy 1–2 corps in the region should a war break out. Thus, Moscow has only two positive scenarios: the Baltic nations leaving NATO, or NATO ceasing to exist. All other solutions would be inconclusive for Russia,» the report states.

According to EIB Russia's military planning in the Baltic operational direction is based on the assumption that when staging forces, it has a temporal advantage over NATO. Moscow believes that it is capable of conducting a limited military operation before any effective response by NATO could be mounted.

«The goal of such operations would not be to seize the entire territory of Estonia or Latvia, but rather to impose control over some towns or areas close to the border,» the agency writes.

According to EIB this operation would be conducted by units permanently stationed close to the Estonian and Latvian borders, reinforced by units of the 1st Tank Army and the Central Military District, and by tactical nuclear weapons as deterrence.