Polskie Radio (Poland): Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia should take into account any scenario

Interview with employee portal “difens 24” Roubo Jacek (Jacek Raubo).

Polskie Radio: What military scenarios are taken into account in the context of coming from Russia’s threats to Poland, the Alliance and its Eastern flank? Some reports state that the Russians on the seizure of the Baltic States and parts of the Polish territory will take a couple of weeks. As potential goals are called the Baltic States, Ukraine, our country.

Jacek Raubo: the Baltic States theoretically protects the Fifth article of the Washington Treaty. Ukraine, in turn, such international military commitments is not connected. The Ukrainian state, therefore, is in a less favorable strategic position, this is an important distinction.

However Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia should take into account any scenario because they do not have the so-called strategic depth. It’s a small specifically located state in which the majority of residents are concentrated in certain urban areas. In Latvia and Estonia has a Russian-speaking minority. The Russians can infiltrate these circles and use them for their own purposes, e.g. propaganda. This kind of interest Russian special services to the local community we have already seen, there’s nothing new. You should also recall the sensational cyberware in Estonia, which came from Russia. I repeat: Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia should take into account any scenarios.

— What else can you say about the balance of power in the region? There is, for example, Kaliningrad oblast…

— … that is “unsinkable aircraft carrier” of Moscow in the Baltic. There are systems of air and coastal defense, artillery, including missiles, land-based planes, on which the provocative flights over the Baltic sea, we regularly hear. On the background continues to unfold the game for Belarus, it is the theme of Suvalki corridor and the value of a land corridor between the Belarusian territory and the Kaliningrad region.

The Russian region because of accumulated military resources, of course, presents a problem for both Lithuania and Estonia, and Poland. Advanced military presence of NATO or the program of patrolling the Baltic airspace show that it is also a problem for the entire Alliance. In this regard, we are now building up our military capabilities. We are not talking about weapons for offensive operations, and the systems of deterrence and defense. We want our defense capabilities have enabled us to operate effectively in the political and diplomatic, as well as, in the event of an immediate threat to our territory, the military sphere.

— What should we do?

— There is a purely military matters: the deployment of new anti-tank systems, mechanized units, aviation and so on. Added to this is the theme of combating the enemy in his operations in the information and cyberspace. We consolidate the individual elements of the armed forces, which is evident in the discussions on modernization programs.

In the framework of cooperation with the Americans we will get a great importance for our defense missiles “Jasm” (last time, I think, forgot about them), including their latest version of ER. We modernize weapons related to air and missile defense. Of course, there will be questions about the scope and impact of modernization and procurement, but the most important thing on the question of the needs of our army in General there is a consensus. Important also, the military exercises, which worked through the interaction of different forces. It should be recalled that on the Eastern flank in this field have all moved forward only in recent years.

We are now in a more difficult situation than during the cold war, when we had to consider two elements: conventional weapons and weapons of mass destruction. Now they added a number of new, in particular, actions in cyberspace, mission intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR), which used drones and satellites. Often discussed only artillery, tanks, and the above-mentioned elements are not taken into account.

Anyway, we try to bring our capabilities in the areas of deterrence and defense in accordance with the needs. The Russians can conduct irregular military operations, using subversive groups. Confront them with difficult political and practical point of view. There are a variety of issues. How to respond to the scale of NATO’s emergence in Latgale, the border region of Latvia, people in civilian clothes with light weapons? How to respond to a massive cyber attack that threatens our economy or banking system? The dangers became greater than during the cold war. As strange as it sounds, but militarily the situation looked more predictable.

— Meanwhile, in terms of confrontation between the two sides of the new cold war is becoming increasingly fierce.

— The confrontation escalates and covers new areas in which, it seemed, would always be calm. We thought that after joining the EU and NATO a list of countries that do not have to consider the possibility of limited military conflict involving the army, expand. Now, however, we found ourselves in a completely new reality. We have to think about the scenarios that seemed a thing of the past.

— Russia, unfortunately, has in the region an advantage.

And it ably demonstrates. However, this advantage is not always real. Pay attention though to the fact that Russia is not the first year a certain way tells us about their actions in Syria, but about some of the weapons raises questions.

In the framework of the Eastern art of warfare it is believed that the show of force, intimidation or deception of the enemy can win the battle before they start. Russia is now experiencing economic problems, it is difficult to predict how it will develop there an epidemic of coronavirus, so its potential may not represent a real danger for us. NATO forces are in General stronger, the Alliance has a solid deterrence capability, although we often forget this, concentrating solely on the problems.

In the period when NATO and Western Europe focused on anti-terrorist missions, studying the weak elements in the design of the Alliance from the decision-making process and the ability to maneuver in such a way as not to give a clear political and military response to problems with the missile systems. This is convenient for Russia the period ended, especially since Washington does not allow themselves to be deceived.

We see, for example, that the Americans withdrew from the INF Treaty, for example, which, in my opinion, it was clearly seen how Russians for many years led by the nose the American side. Now in US actions (and not only them) reappeared pragmatism and real possibilities.

The contract broke, as it broke.

In the result, the United States became involved in the rivalry in this sphere of medium-range missiles. I would, however, not restricted to topic RIAC confrontation between Moscow and Washington, because in the background there is also China. In any case, Russia already does not have former strategic comfort, and, in my opinion, to arrange something like a “Crimea 2.0” it would be now not so easy. Even Ukraine with all its political and economic problems is preparing to give a strong military response to the Russians in case of escalation of the situation.

— However, in our region, locally, the preponderance of forces on the side of Russia.

— Western military district — is the subject of special attention of the Kremlin.

— There are accumulated the attacking forces.

— The territory adjacent to NATO, it is for the Russians really important in symbolic and practical terms, the space, and therefore they are increasing there military capabilities. Western military district gets advanced weapons systems. The fact that Russia manages to modernize land most of the time there. It’s kind of a window facing the Alliance and the West. Also important Arctic command. Moving modern weapons, Moscow demonstrates that it is the regions that are associated with its strategic interests. So this should be taken. Dramatic shouldn’t, but to ignore the situation too. It is not to be afraid, but to realistically evaluate defence needs.

— So, we cannot close our eyes to the realities or shy away from discussing them.

— Must be able to understand Russia’s actions, therefore, active work should be left to the analysts, strategists and in General the entire state apparatus. In Poland, there are great experts on the subject, the only question is whether, where decisions are made, to listen to their opinion. The other members of NATO, which still exists many stereotypes on the subject of Russian policy and its real value can be tricky.

— Russia and conducts exercises, and is modernizing its armed forces, strengthening the Western military district. Kaliningrad oblast, for example, is literally stuffed with weapons.

Is now one large military base, a fortress. In the propaganda of the plane it is designed to show how well the Russians managed to create a zone of restriction and prohibition of access and maneuver. About its real effectiveness is, however, different opinions.

In recent years the Russians have also pulled additional units to the borders of Ukraine and Belarus.

— Western military district — the main recipient of the products of the process of modernization of the armed forces of the Russian Federation, which deals with the Duo Putin — Shoigu. As for Ukraine, the Russians themselves through aggressive actions have created for yourself special needs in the field of large military forces at the borders. Remember the Crimea and its militarization.

— So, in strengthening the Eastern flank of NATO we still have much to do.

— In the military sphere has no ceiling, at which we can say that we ensured their safety. It is a myth that politicians sometimes spread. The specificity of relations of politicians and society in democratic countries is that spending from the budget for military purposes to explain the need to achieve a certain level of security. “When we reach this goal, we have nothing to threaten”, — is spoken usually. Meanwhile this is an ongoing process, long-term work, the results of which often depend on external factors over which we have no control over.

A characteristic feature of the sphere of military technology is that each weapons system, you receive a response. Have a long work to acquire such capabilities for deterrence and defence, which will respond to all calls in security, but in the end will persuade a potential aggressor to decide what to attack us it is not profitable including for economic reasons.

Our region needs investment in system security, and as experts say, we are still at the beginning of this journey.

— You should separate the political and the military sphere in its strategic and tactical aspects. In the first we were able to achieve a lot on the results of the summits in Wales, Warsaw, Brussels. In this regard, the Alliance is ripe for reform. I agree with the fact that even have to do speed of decision-making and implementation processes, as well as infrastructure, roads, practicing the reception of allied units, the troops of the second echelon. You also need to pay attention to the consistency of our operational tactics, the interaction of different weapons systems, protection of the airspace. This system of air and missile defense, a corresponding saturation of the theater of operations systems in short, medium and long range. Going down on each successive level, we see more aspects that require intervention to strengthen capacity.

This is a very important point. We regularly hear disputes on the subject of what we have achieved, but they should distinguish between different levels of action. Mix them unconstructive.

— The fact that now the countries of Western Europe have understood the necessity of sending troops in the mission expanded forward presence in Poland and the Baltic States, that they are generally aware of the existence of the Eastern flank and the importance of exercise, this is a huge strategic achievement, success in political terms. Policies from countries that are skeptical about our position in relation to Russia, saw these needs. If to speak about concrete steps in the military sphere, then list what we’re missing would be a long time. However, we are gradually moving forward, and it makes me optimistic about the defensive potential of the Eastern flank of NATO.

An important issue is the security of the Baltic sea.

— Yes, Sweden, for example, faced with unusual situations related to the action of submarines and exploration of one of the Eastern States.

— That is Russia.

Countries facing the Baltic sea, perhaps better than any other they realize that it has become a region where Russia is pursuing a specific policy that includes a neo-imperialist motives and the elements of modern tactics and strategies, including a hybrid.

Finland and Sweden are considered to be partners of NATO. The Scandinavian countries participated in the exercise along with members of the Alliance, they are engaged in the modernization of the armed forces and in recent years carried out an information campaign telling its citizens about possible threats.

Importantly, the Alliance and the EU are talking about the need to achieve an appropriate level of mobility. We are talking about the rapid and coordinated movement of troops and their reception in the destination. Europe must be prepared to build capacity and to operate in any scenario, because we do not live in peaceful times.