NATO’s credibility is at stake in the Baltic region. If front-line states do not cooperate, the Atlantic Alliance is at risk of losing its credibility and effectiveness without a shot being fired.
Today the Center for European Policy Analysis (CEPA) releases its ground-breaking report on Baltic Sea security: “The Coming Storm.” Authored by Senior Vice President Edward Lucas, the report includes inputs from CEPA’s Central Europe Strategic Assessment Group.
The central finding of the report is that the nine “front-line states” – the Nordic five (Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden), the Baltic three (Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania) and Poland – need to end their “strategic incoherence” in the face of a multi-pronged and sustained military, propaganda and espionage offensive from Russia. Though these countries – which the report calls the NBP9 – have a combined GDP one-third greater than Russia’s, their generally weak defense spending and poor coordination makes them highly vulnerable to Russian threats.
Edward Lucas is the author of the prescient New Cold War, published in 2008, and other books. He is the director of CEPA’s new Baltic Sea Security Program, which aims to offer analytical support to decision-makers seeking to curb the security threat from Russia in the Baltic Sea region.
The report plots the growth of Russia’s revisionist regional agenda since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, and explains how division between the seven NATO countries and non-NATO Sweden and Finland intensify the region’s vulnerabilities. It concludes with a ten-point road-map for increased security cooperation.
Geography makes the defense of NATO’s most vulnerable members, the Baltic states, difficult, even impossible, without the full cooperation of non-NATO Sweden and Finland, the report notes. For their part, NATO countries in the region are nervous about military cooperation with non-NATO countries. As both Sweden and Finland are strong U.S. allies, American leadership can overcome this, the report argues.
The Center for European Policy Analysis (CEPA) is a non-profit, non-partisan public policy research institute dedicated to the study of Central and Eastern Europe (CEE). Founded in 2005, CEPA is the only U.S. think-tank that works exclusively on the countries and societies of this dynamic global region. The Center’s mission is to promote an economically vibrant, strategically secure and politically free Central and Eastern Europe with close and enduring ties to the United States.