Geopolitics and Planning for a High-End Fight:
NATO and the Baltic Region
The geopolitical crisis in Europe stemming from Russia's annexation of Crimea and further attacks on Ukraine has resulted in a heightened level of tensions between Russia and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Geopolitical concerns, especially from the NATO members most at risk--the three Baltic states--have prompted the alliance's political leadership to make demands on military planners to bolster readiness and to consider operational options to deter aggression from Russia and, failing that, to fight a technologically sophisticated adversary. Key among these has been the establishment of the Baltic air policing mission and the forward deployment of NATO air assets to bases in the Baltic region. Although arguably important as a deterrent, the idea that NATO could conduct even agile or "untethered" wartime air operations from the Baltic countries in light of their vulnerable location vis-ŕ-vis Russia and the high threat posed by the Russian armed forces incorporates a dangerous strategic assumption that could have extremely unfavorable consequences.