World War 3 is the hobgoblin of the modern military world, what with wars and civil wars and proxy wars springing up all over the globe. But a think tank is now warning the West to be wary of Russia and its military build-up and increased maneuverings and war exercises, for, according to them, they could actually disguise troop and materiel movement that would be the vanguard of a sweeping invasion that NATO and the Western powers might not be able to stop or contain.
The Daily Star reported July 24 that the Atlantic Council, an international affairs think tank headquartered in Washington, D.C., issued its latest dispatch on the state of potential military weaknesses with regard to Russia, finding that the world's largest nation (land-wise) could easily mount a quick and efficient attack in eastern Europe and, in effect, declare war "overnight" and take over the Baltic states before the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) could mount anything close to an effective defense. It would be a military action that could very well lead to World War 3.
According to authors Sir Richard Shirreff, a British general, and Maciej Olex-Szczytowski, the former special adviser to Poland's foreign minister, Russia could cut off the Baltic states in a lightning-quick attack that could very well catch NATO and its member nations completely off-guard. Such a move would then place intense pressure on the autonomy of Poland and other NATO nations along the Russian border. The duo warns that "the West misunderstands Russia, assuming that it will obey the rules even if we are not willing to enforce them."
The report pointed to Russia's increased militarization and its increase in training exercises, not to mention the recent deployment of Russian nuclear missile launchers in a convoy to travel from Russia's European border to the Mongolian border (per Russia Today), as the perfect cover opportunity for a Russian surprise invasion of nations like Latvia, Estonia, and Lithuania. (It is believed that, like the Ukraine, Russia still covets the idea of restoring the power of Russia to its former glory -- that of its greatest territorial expanse when it was part of the Soviet Union.)
It would be easy for President Vladimir Putin to send Russia's military into the Baltic states quickly using military exercises as a guise until the invasion was implemented.
"Turning one of these exercises into an operation against one or several of the Baltic states would give very little or no early warning time for NATO," the report warned.
According to the report, the re-annexation of the Baltic states could have "potentially devastating implications for eastern Poland and fatal consequences to the Alliance [NATO]." Such a maneuver on Russia's western border could force NATO to either allow the takeover, which would abrogate the validity of the NATO mutual pact alliance or push the organization to retaliate against Russia in a war that could easily escalate, experts fear, into World War 3.
To deter possible Russian aggression, the Atlantic Council report suggested that Poland should bolster its defenses. And even if Russia was not so inclined to separate the Baltic states from the rest of NATO, the authors noted: "The capability to do so is, to a large extent, in place."
World War 3 imminence is the Atlantic Council's stock in trade, providing the United States, western powers, and NATO with information and scenarios with which to formulate military and foreign policy. Last year, the London-based think tank European Leadership Network (ELN) issued a report that could be used as foundational material for the Atlantic Council report. According to the Daily Mail, the ELN warned of a possible confrontation with Russia, stating that Putin and his generals were "actively preparing" for war against NATO by planning an unprecedented number (some 4,000) of military exercises for 2015. By comparison, NATO had only 270 training exercises scheduled.
With more and more troops being deployed to the Baltic region by both sides, and given the tension that still resonates in Ukraine, there might be some reason to worry about the spark that might conceivably lead to World War 3. But given the mutual agreement between Russia and the United States in attacking, containing, and defeating the Islamic State in the Middle East and the negotiations regarding a joint Russia-U.S. manned mission to the Moon, the exercises could very well be exactly what they're designed to be -- preparedness exercises.
Of course, that does not mean complacency should become NATO's default posture, either. Think tanks like Atlantic Council and European Leadership Network exist to ensure that never occurs. And because of organizations like them, World War 3 just might always stay in the realm of "what if" scenarios.
Besides, why worry about a possible attack by Russia on the Baltic states when the end of the world is as close as the next magnetic polar shift?
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