If Ukraine falls, Russia could advance towards the countries of the Atlantic Alliance

The failure of Kiev’s counter-advance caused justified alarms about an attack by Moscow on European countries and those belonging to the Atlantic Alliance; according to the Germans, a success in Ukraine could lead the Russians to decide to advance towards a country neighboring Russia: the main suspects are the Baltic countries, but tension is also increasing in Poland. These analyzes are nothing new: the German Ministry of Defense has long developed a forecast of a possible attack on the eastern flank of the Atlantic Alliance, which could take place by 2025. The necessary condition for this forecast to come true is a Russian victory in Ukraine, a strong mobilization is expected in February 2024, capable of bringing 200,000 soldiers to the front, and then launching a spring offensive that will be decisive for the outcome of the conflict in Moscow’s favor. If this scenario were to come true, Putin could decide to advance towards adjacent objectives, even if some doubts remain about the real ability to quickly replenish Russian arsenals. Even the possibility of only a partial advance would benefit the Kremlin, because it could convince Kiev to decide to concede something to Russia to avoid the complete loss of the disputed territories, while the European Union could soften its attitude to avoid the arrival of a large number of refugees, capable of destabilizing the fragile internal balance. The use of forms of hybrid warfare such as cyber attacks, towards Brussels and the search for pretexts with the Baltic countries, would complete the Russian action; in particular, Moscow could repeat the tactics operated before the war in Ukraine, when the Russian population in the border areas was incited, which could happen again with the Russians residing in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and also Finland and Poland; this would represent the excuse to carry out joint maneuvers on the borders of these states, also involving the Belarusian army. These dangers are well present in the vision of the Atlantic Alliance, a further factor of concern, with respect to Ukraine, is that, in a potential Russian attack, there is an important geographical variable constituted by the Kaliningrad region, a Russian territory between Poland and Lithuania, without territorial continuity with the motherland. For Moscow, from a strategic point of view the conquest of the so-called Suwalki corridor, which directly connects the Baltic countries to the NATO allies, would be a priority. Deploying troops and short- and medium-range missiles in the Kaliningrad region would allow the Kremlin to launch an offensive, capable of uniting the isolated region with its Belarusian ally. The coincidence of the American presidential elections is considered another factor in Putin’s favour: Russia could attack at the time of the election or transfer of power, compromising the reaction times of the major military force of the Atlantic Alliance; even a possible election of Trump is seen as an facilitation for the Russians, which could lead to an American disengagement even within NATO, without the European Union yet being able to support Moscow’s attack. On this issue, Brussels’ delay is disheartening, the lack of a common army, combined with the lack of common action in foreign policy, leaves the EU disorganized in the face of global emergencies and, furthermore, the continuous division between member states creates a lack of cohesion that is highly detrimental to a common defense project not dependent on the US presence. Speaking of numbers, the forecast is for a deployment of around 70,000 Russian soldiers on Belarusian territory, on the border with the Baltic states by March 2025. The Atlantic Alliance has already foreseen a substantial response to this contingent of around 300,000 men to protect the corridor Lithuanian, to defend the integrity of the Baltic countries, but these are huge numbers, which could reopen the way to compulsory military service, which many states plan to reinstate, precisely to counterbalance the Russian numbers. The phenomenon of war centered on the models of the First and Second World Wars, which seemed overcome by the deployment of super-technological armaments, seems to be able to forcefully return, subverting all predictions. To avoid this scenario it is important to support Ukraine in every way to contain Putin’s ambitions and prevent the Third World War.

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