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Access for Allies? NATO, Russia and the Baltics

Martin Zapfe and Michael Carl Haas
RUSI Journal, 22 June 2016
NATO, Russia, Defence Policy
NATO is in an unenviable position as it tries to reassure its Baltic members facing Russian aggression without provoking the Kremlin

One of the most important debates currently underway within NATO focuses on the extent to which the Alliance should have a forward presence of Allied combat forces in the exposed Baltic States. Limited-presence arrangements are likely to fall short of their deterrent purpose if they fail to account for Russia’s growing ability to threaten NATO’s operational access to the Baltics. Martin Zapfe and Michael Carl Haas argue that any NATO strategy of assured access would face significant hurdles and come at a price. Although it could considerably strengthen conventional deterrence, such a strategy would be liable to exacerbate the regional security dilemma and could lead to a lasting regionalisation of the Alliance.

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