Defense Minister calms public over invasion wargames

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The Defense Minister says the worrying conclusions recently published by the RAND Corporation think-tank over Russia's ability to invade the Baltics are 'not new or not previously unknown', the Defense Ministry's spokeswoman Līga Krapāne told the media Thursday.

Several Latvian news websites, LSM's Russian- and Latvian-language sites included, had published a news story about the Russian invasion scenario war-gamed by RAND Corporation. What follow are excerpts from the Defense Ministry reply to the news.

"The conclusions of the RAND Corporation think-tank about Russia's ability to occupy the Baltic States and the factors interfering with NATO are not new or previously unknown information. Other international institutes and think tanks have carried out similar research. At the same time, the disquiet that Latvians could feel over such conclusions and assumptions is understandable," reads the release.

"It is exactly because of this that, taking into account the geographical placement of the Eastern flank of NATO states and the unpredictability of Russia, NATO has been and is taking substantial measures to deter similar Russian activities against a Baltic state," the release goes on.

"In addition to that, I think the NATO Warsaw summit should decide on long-term solutions on the defense of the Baltics. While it is the task of Latvia to strengthen its self-defense abilities as only long-term deterrence carried out by NATO, combined with Latvian self-defense capabilities and early warning, can ensure that Russia would never turn militarily against Latvia or any Baltic state."

The announcement said that the current deterrence policy is based on boosting self-defense, ensuring allied presence and receptive capabilities, as well as ensuring the operation of an early warning and information exchange system. 

"I want to remind that my main priority in the office is strengthening and fortifying the combat capabilities of the National Armed Forces. A substantial, long-term, visible NATO presence is just as important. That's the goal of deterring the possible aggressor and to shutting down even the thought that a NATO member state could be invaded," the Defense Minister concluded.

One of the key findings of the RAND Corporation war game scenario is that if Russian tanks and troops rolled into the Baltics tomorrow, NATO forces would be overrun in under three days. 

"As presently postured, NATO cannot successfully defend the territory of its most exposed members," says the report.

It allows however that a force of about seven adequately supported brigades, including three heavy armored brigades, "could suffice to prevent the rapid overrun of the Baltic states".

The RAND Corporation think tank features American military officers and civilian officials.

Coincidentally the statement was released just hours after another simulation by the British Broadcasting Corporation, centered on conflict in eastern Latvia triggering global nuclear war.

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