Monday, April 3, 2017

Putin's Next Play The Baltic States?

The Russian Federation under kleptocratic thug Vladimir "Vlad the Invader" Putin has a clear strategic goal: acquire territories that broke off from it after the collapse of the Soviet Union. He's already annexed Ukraine's Crimea in 2014 and is trying to undermine and absorb Ukraine itself. In order to push further, Putin needs a fragmented and weakened NATO and European Union, and his luck grew with the electoral college election of his admirer, Donald "Rump" Trump. Rump's attacks calling NATO obsolete, and his support of right-wing UK Brexit nationalists is music to Putin's ears, and an encouragement for him to set his strategy in motion.

In their annual threat assessment issued today, the Government of Lithuania -- a former Soviet possession and now a NATO member -- indicates that Russia is capable of launching an invasion of the Baltic states (Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia) in at most 24 hours, making an effective NATO response extremely difficult. The assessment points to upgrades in surface-to-sea Russian missiles and aircraft in nearby Kaliningrad that could support a ground attack on the Baltic states. Also, intelligence gathering by Russian ships in the Baltic Sea and a malicious disinformation campaign aimed at the 3,000 NATO troops stationed in the three Baltic states is further evidence of Russia's attempts to intimidate its former colonies.

We have no confidence that Putin pal Rump will heed Lithuania's assessment, much less take firm action with our NATO allies should the unthinkable happen and Russia invade. It's gotten that bad, as a U.S. president insults allies and sides with a hostile foreign power each and every time.

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