RIGA - The only way to strengthen NATO's deterrence policy towards Russia is to help develop the defense capabilities of the Baltic states, which would thus increase Russia's costs if it were to theoretically decide to act aggressively in the region, Center for Security and Strategic Research at the Latvian National Defense Academy expert Nora Vanaga believes.
In a publication called Latvia's Foreign and Security Policy 2017, written for the Latvian Institute of International Affairs, Vanaga admitted that NATO members do not have the political will to send their forces on a permanent basis to the Baltic region. There is neither political nor support from the public for this.
However, she said that there is a political will to deploy battalions to the Baltics on a rotation basis, as member states do not see such a force as provocative. She also said that the Baltics are also capable of accommodating these forces in their countries financially and that those countries participating in these battalions also have the political will to finance their own forces within the battalion.
She emphasized that work must be done to integrate these forces into the Latvian armed forces, at least when reacting to possible crisis scenarios. Vanaga explained that it is also important for the Defense Ministry to constantly communicate with the public why the battalion is being deployed to Latvia and its objective, so not to allow Russian propaganda to write such headlines as ''Latvia is occupied by foreign troops'' or ''presence of NATO forces provoking Russia''.
The expert also pointed out that even though the deployment of multinational battalions to the Baltic region is an important show of solidarity by NATO partners, they cannot counter Russia's military superiority in the region. She also said that it must be remembered that NATO is also encountering substantial problems in ensuring the deployment of rapid reaction forces at the moment.
''Thus, the only way to strengthen NATO's deterrence policy towards Russia is to help the Baltics develop their defense capabilities, and thus making in more costly for Russia if it indeed decided to act aggressively in the region,'' Vanaga believes.