Monday, August 22, 2011

Baltic Solidarity to an Emerging Russia

1) The Visegrad 4: Eastern Europe as a Major Player
2) The Re-Emergent Russian Bloc
3) Baltic Solidarity to an Emerging Russia
4) The EU Periphery: "Core" EU's Albatross
5) The Atlantics: A Return to Arms-Length Continental Management

Dear readers,

Sorry about the wait. Today we conclude our 5-part series on the Blocanization of Europe with our final installment: Baltic Solidarity to an Emerging Russia.

The Baltics have worried about Russia for a long time, likely surprising nobody. When Russia looks west, it sees both vulnerability and opportunity. Its vulnerability comes from open plains stretching from Moscow all the way to the Alps, giving potential invaders an easy route in (which we've seen taken advantage of many times), as well as St. Petersburg being potentially bottled up by European maritime powers in the Baltic sea. Russia thus seeks to create buffer space and exert influence over its western neighbors in order to protect its land and sea periphery.

The opportunities are in natural resources (Finnish timber, Norwegian oil, etc). Russia has made moves to squeeze control of these resources or the processing of them out of the Nordic holders.

So Russia has thus spent most of the 20th and 21st centuries attempting to exert control over these areas to in order to protect itself and realize financial opportunities.

So the Baltics have been traditionally fearful. Much like the V4, their faith in NATO has started to erode. Estonia has been the constant victim of political manipulation and cyber-attacks for a decade; Finland has been pressed by tariffs.

So the rest of the story is short. The Baltic countries are looking to each other for solidarity, especially military. Sweden and Norway sport surprisingly powerful military forces that will make any incursions by Russia a much more painful contest than the invasion of Georgia.

In particular, Sweden and Poland are discussing potential alliance-making; nothing as strong as the V4 itself or the Baltic's grouping, but something that could potentially functionally replace NATO altogether.

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