NATO’s defence policy dilemma in the Baltic States
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Leiden University
Online publication date: 2017-03-21
Publication date: 2017-03-30
Security and Defence Quarterly 2017;14(1):51–68
The purpose of this paper is to discuss the dilemma NATO has faced since February 2014 in its defence policy regarding the Baltic States. If NATO pursues a policy of deterrence, it might trigger war because Russia, the would-be deteree, may perceive actions taken by NATO as not intended to strengthen deterrence but rather to intimidate or coerce it. If it pursues an alternate policy of leaving the Baltic States visibly undefended, it might trigger war because Russia may see this as a sign of weakness and a gap to be exploited. This article investigates the logic of the dilemma, before considering whether NATO’s choice, made at the Warsaw Summit of July 2016, is working as intended. Ultimately, we cannot predict the answer and, therefore, we should consider all possible outcomes, including those which lead to a defensive war in the Baltic States.
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