There is currently a great deal of alarmist concern, triggered by a recent RAND report, about Russia’s supposed ability to conquer the Baltic states — Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, three former Soviet republics that are now part of NATO — and thus drive a wedge into NATO without the West being able to do anything to stop it.
But before we start to panic, it’s important to consider not just whether Moscow might ever actually want to do this, but also all the many ways in which the West could retaliate other than with military force. There are, after all, more ways to win wars than just with tanks and fighters.
The reality is that not only does Russia likely have zero ambitions to capture the Baltic states in the first place, but even if it did, the US and NATO could do a whole lot to punish it for doing so.
That’s because for all the talk of Russia’s brilliant use of “asymmetric” or “hybrid” warfare — that is, fighting not so much on the regular battlefield but by using all kinds of sneaky and unconventional approaches, from information and cyber warfare to political manipulation — the truth is that if anyone has an “asymmetric” or “hybrid” edge, it is actually the West.
Read the Remainder at Vox