Putin’s One Million Man Army Ready to Steam Roll Across The Channel

Telegraph

Okay, so I know its the Telegraph, but I can’t seriously believe that any editor would allow such inaccurate nonsense to appear in a broad sheet. It seems the problem with getting the message on defence spending across to the media is two fold. The vast majority of the media know little about defence and care even less. The few that do profess to care seem to know nothing beyond watching the Battle of Britain.

 

Just to pick up on some of the inaccuracies

 

  • Russia does not have the 2nd biggest defence budget in the world. China spends almost double. In dollar terms Russia’s budget is likely to drop below ours soon as well.
  • Neither Russia or Ukraine is any where near the English Channel.
  • Russia does not have a million man army ready to storm across Europe. Even if it did one million men is a pretty small force to use to invade Europe, which coincidently has more soldiers than Russia. In addition despite the cut backs in Europe its forces are still of a far higher quality both in training and equipment than anything the Russians poses in numbers.
  • I have never come across any report that said Russian aircraft violated UK airspace this week.

 

While I don’t doubt we should take the Russian threat seriously and I do believe we should begin to slightly increase defence spending, lets not pretend by any stretch of the imagination that Russia and Putin in 2015 is Hitler and Germany in 1939. The author of this article is either lying to get his point across or so badly informed that he should not be writing in a major news paper.

Either way, bad journalism like this helps no ones case to get a higher priority for defence spending.

 

Another point that the author breezes over is the threat of nuclear war. Honestly I think people have forgotten just how terrible the reality is. Between NATO and Russia we have more than 10,000 nuclear warheads pointed at each other. Imagine the horror of even one of them going off in a city.

With the quite frankly piss poor state of the conventional forces at his disposal and the overwhelming conventional superiority of NATO we would be wise not to start thinking about backing Putin into any military corners.

Not that I believe even Putin is crazy enough to initiate World War Three. However people and world financial markets get jumpy at the threat of a handful of pissed off Jihad’s armed with home made bombs. Imagine the fallout for some real cold war style nuclear blackmail. Lets not pretend that their is a military solution to deal with Putin’s current adventure. Its a job for sanctions that are already working. If he ups the anti again then we up the sanctions. When the people of Moscow are starving on the street’s Putin will not last long. Rolling tanks into Ukraine can only inflame and all ready dangerous situation and the “hawks” should remember just what the stakes are in playing against a nuclear armed power.

 

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IXION
February 22, 2015 10:20 am

I am on record with the phrase no one is going to rock up at Calaise with 50 tank divisions.

So I should be on side with TD with the ‘Calm Down dears’.

But I aint!

It is unfortunatly widely forgotten how badly broke Germany was in say 1933.

Its GDP per capita was never as large as the uk’s alone.

Much of its early equipment was inferior to western allied equipment

The French had more tanks than the Germans, and tank for tank some were better.

Germanies navy was in real terms a joke.

A lot of the comentariat in early 30s constantly pointed this out in effect saying

‘we dont need to fear Germany we can easily kick its arse’

No one wanted war and the west went to war reluctantly. But it went with confidence.

One does not need to look at propaganda of the time but most of the millitary reports of the time were full of confidence.

I also do not buy the ‘Don’t put Putin in a corner’ line.

If we had kicked Hittler out the Rhineland, the eventual war would have taken a wholley different course.

Remember that up to 38-39 Italy was widely regarded as the dominant Fascist Partner.

So no parallel at all.

Germany was a:-

Broke country given partial economic success by an autocratic ruler.

A country that felt defeated and humiliated bothy recent past event.

Made paranoid by a minor figure from earlier conflict motivated by a desire to reistablish it as a world power.

Assisted by significant minorities of its nationals left in other countries established by the break up of its former union of states.

Aided by a residual militarism.

Its leader supported by a significant part of the population who wanted their country to be respected again.

Financially broke, subject to sanctions, subjecting parts of its population to discriminatory laws popularly supported.

Faced with a Europe prepared to put up with outrageous territorial readjustments by force in order avoid war.

Whereas Russia is…

Oh Fuck!

Sorry TD. But far from struggling to find a parallel I am strugling to find a difference.

Far more gloomy than my northern friend

IXION
February 22, 2015 10:26 am

BTW

The above is not meant to be a Chuchilian Call to arms.

Just that we really need to slap this guy hard now to avoid a lot of trouble later.

The Other Chris
February 22, 2015 10:56 am

Admit it’s a dangerous thought, is this fear of Sovietism a bad message if it preserves spending or boosts to the promised 2% GDP?

Dave Wooley
Dave Wooley
February 22, 2015 11:02 am

Putin’s armed forces by all accounts are not a busted flush to think otherwise would be foolish . It’s worth remembering that Russia has the best chess players in the world and know that there is more than one way to skin a cat . Putin has made his position very clear and we in the west should take heed , if we decide to ignore the signs then we have only ourselves to blame . Putin at home has put Russia into a state of victimhood to convince his own people that mother Russia is threatened from all sides and only Putin can stand up to these western aggressors . Of course this sort of narrative plays well to a receptive populous as they see the Ukraine falling into the so called EU orbit of influence. My own take is that what is unfolding was not a knee jerk reaction to the events in Kiev but a calculated move . The west stood by and watched while the Crimea was taken.

Gloomy Northern Boy
Gloomy Northern Boy
February 22, 2015 11:10 am

– More than happy to share my Gloom on this particular subject…like you, I feel our boundless confidence that we can readily over-match the Czar’s Legions may be rather less the point than the complete failure of the political class to get to grips with the problem, or indeed do anything very much but wish it would go away leaving them to concentrate on more important matters like their various election campaigns…weekly triumphs at pmq…and the really pressing matter of staying top dog within their particular self-contained and hermetically sealed political bubbles…

And before anyone reminds me that they are concentrating on more pressing domestic matters, let me point them in the direction of the slow motion train-crash that remains the Euro…where sky-rocketing unemployment and something akin to economic melt-down continues to afflict much of Southern Europe without very much sign of relief…which I should have thought might have been a priority for decent Social Democrats keen to build “ever closer union”. That’s going really well, isn’t it?

GNB

Steve Coltman
Steve Coltman
February 22, 2015 11:18 am

The Russian Army may not number a million but it is certainly much more than the 285,000 quoted in Wikipedia. They have 19 motor rifle divisions and three tank divisions, each with say 12,000 men? But for every soldier in a front-line division there will be another two in logistic and higher-echelon units. So that alone is nearly 800,000. Plus four or five airborne divisions, plus the equivalent of another two divisions or so of naval infantry. They would have to mobilise reserves to bring all these units to full strength – the 5-7 million strong Soviet Army was mostly a reservist force – some people never seemed to get that point. A million is probably not far off the mark.

Stewart Hitchen
Stewart Hitchen
February 22, 2015 11:27 am

Its about time our Westminster Gas Workers stopped the self preservation mode Paid some attention as the problem wont go away any time soon. This has the potential to cost the treasury a lot more in the long term if its allowed to continue. Sanctions will take a long time to effect Like our political master’s Putin’s comrades “are not in it together like us”.
But Members don’t think outside the parliamentary term if they can. When they do it is for vested interest’s This is a long term problem that will take time and consideration to sort out. As the revolving President/ Prime minister is going to keep Mr Putin in post for years.

Dan
Dan
February 22, 2015 11:32 am

The article is a nonsense but it has two messages one is shock horror Russia is scary, the other one is shock horror let’s give lots more money to BAe shareholders because if we ever had to rearm in a hurry the nasty Americans would not sell us anything and so we need to have lots of factories to build things we do not need and are so specialist high end that no one else will buy, just in case we ever get to the point of full scale war with Russia were both sides choose to not use nuclear weapons because, well just because…….

All of the recent articles around Russia conveniently start measuring military spending from 2010 or at most 2005, not taking into account the total collapse of 1990-2000.

Below a discussion on Russian Navy but you could do the same with ground forces which at 350,000 could occupy all of Ukraine at push or Kazakhstan but moving to take Berlin is fantasy. A few Bear flights at extended range at similar numbers to a decade ago are getting more publicity, tripling of NATO including RAF aircraft operating out of the Baltics is having the effect of disrupting flights from Russia to Kalinangrad, (what would our reaction be to flights out of Dublin intercepting flights between Glasgow and Belfast).

I am sorry but the “threat” to the UK is simply exaggerated nonsense. The Russian Navy has always been constrained by the geography of an enormous nation but access to the sea constrained by choke points.
The Northern Fleet to get anywhere has to peacefully sail past us hence all the headlines of “Shock Horror” Russian Navy peacefully sails past us! The entire Fleet is a Carrier from a 1980s design and commissioned in 1990 and has spent a lot of time in shipyards since. It is smaller than our two new ones, so in 2020 if we keep both in service and buy enough aircraft to make it worthwhile, we have 2 to their 30 year old unreliable one. There have been lots of headlines about building large fleets but nothing of that size is under construction. They have a nuclear powered Cruiser which is powerful but again is from the 1990s and has been unreliable. They have 6 Destroyers, all 1985-95 vintage and zero frigates. To our 6 modern T-45 and 13 T-23. Of course we cannot get all 19 ships to sea simultaneously, but of course neither can they get their entire fleet of 6 ships to sea simultaneously either.

So if the Entire Fleet headed for the Royal Navy past NATO member Norway, we are talking 8 ships, and of course we presumably have the support the French and Dutch Fleets.

The Baltic Fleet, has 2 old 1980s Destroyers, 2 modern new build Frigates and 3 small Corvettes, they are faced by surveillance from the Baltic States, the Poles with second hand US frigates, then the modern equipment of the Germans and Danes before they get out of the Baltic. If they want to go any further they peacefully sail past us and we again get shock horror headlines.

The Black Sea Fleet based in Crimea has on paper 2 Cruisers but one is from the 1970s, and 3 old Destroyers, the 4 Type 22s we sold to the Romanians are more numerous and modern, before we mention the Turkish Fleet.

The Pacific Fleet has a Cruiser and 5 Destroyers, all at best 1990s vintage. They face a Japanese Fleet with 50 plus Surface Ships, the Chinese with 70, and even the South Koreans are much more powerful than the Russians.

Of all of this the only thing actually more modern than the 1990s are the small number of Frigates in the Baltic and as the rest approach 30 years old they are going to have to fund an enormous building programme which despite headlines there is no evidence the Russian shipyards are in a position to deliver or the total numbers will shrink.

Nick
Nick
February 22, 2015 11:37 am

Putin is writing cheques that his economy (even back at $100 Oil) cant deliver. In that sense Russia is not a threat to NATO. However, it is a (actual or potential) threat to certain East European and Central Asian countries with significant Russian minority population (Belarus, Ukraine, Baltics, Kazakhstan etc) on the basis of their current actions.

I can’t really believe that anyone in the Russian hierarchy can seriously believe that NATO/EU membership up to the national border is an actual threat to Russia itself. The EU or NATO isn’t going to invade and take-over.

I suggest that the “real” threat in their eyes is to the ruling class itself (ie Putin and the Oligarchs) and their continued ability to run Russia as they want for (virtually) their sole benefit. The threat is purely economic competence. It suits them to use state controlled media to create a different threat to keep the population on side. They have to avoid 1917 mark 2 at all costs. Whether they succeed is a different question.

Their political response is to keep

a) Keep the population happy (propaganda, pensions, subsidized energy)
b) Keep the threat as far away as possible by seeking to control their immediate neighbours as vassal states rather than partners.

This smacks of political and strategic weakness and fear. It is their fear we need to be ready to deal with. For NATO/EU today this means strengthening the economies of the Eastern EU and providing for reaction forces to deter Russia. This may mean putting troops into Poland and the Baltics full time, although this isn’t a strategy without potential costs in reinforcing Russian propaganda to their own people.

WiseApe
February 22, 2015 11:39 am

I find myself in agreement with Ixion. I haven’t been this upset since…well, England’s last cricket match.

I wish people would stop referring to NATO as if it was a single entity – it’s not, it’s made up of constantly shifting political views and outlooks.

What if Russia invades one of the Baltic states? It would be hard enough getting agreement on the appropriate level of economic/diplomatic sanctions, let alone rounding everyone up for the drive on Moscow. (That last bit was tongue in cheek, btw).

Nick
Nick
February 22, 2015 11:46 am

@Steve Coltman

The bulk of those forces are formed by conscripts doing short term military service. The significant threat comes from a much smaller force.

dave haine
dave haine
February 22, 2015 12:00 pm

Whilst I agree with Martin that the telegraph needs a spanking for being unerringly inaccurate and the general twattish tone of the article…I wouldn’t be quite as sanguine, either.

It’s true that taken as a whole Europe’s armed forces are indeed greater than, and have a qualitive edge over Ma Rasputin’s. But the issue would be getting them to act as a cohesive whole.

We were/ are all told in various team building/ self development etc exercises that the way to achieve large objectives is to chop them into smaller ones… So all Ma Rasputin has to do is take one country out at a time, So, first Georgia, then Ukraine chopped into little bits…

….Like Ixion, I can see parallels with the 1930’s and that decades inexorable slide into war, and like Ixion I’m troubled by the western powers response…

…Thoroughly gloomy in somerset….

IXION
February 22, 2015 12:14 pm

The third shock army is not on its way back.

Russia is seriously broke.

I am not worried about the ‘tanks west scenario’.

It is argued by a lot of people in the know at the time That. after the death of Stalin, Russia’s biggest cold war aim was not conquest, but ”Finlandisation’ of Europe. Which is what it is attempting in the east with the old Soviet Republics.

Putin wants what he sees as Russian territory back, Don Bass and Crimea.

Other than that he wants Ukraine to swear not to join NATO. He is demanding a say over what a soverign nation does because it is in Russias Sphere of influence.

He really is in a 1940s almost 19th century mindset.

If I am right, he WILL go after the Baltic states with a mixture of bluff threats and insurgancy from ‘oppressed. Russian minorities’ and ‘Volunteers from mother Russia’.

Just think about that for a moment. If 30 % of the Latvian population ‘rises up agianst it oppressors’ how does NATO deal with it?

If we rush in, Russia screams ‘Capitalist oppressors’! If we dont then how does it play out differently to Ukraine?

Putin will push and push until the west puts a stake in the ground and say 1step beyond that and we start shooting.

We should keep up the sanctions, keep them hard, and make them as total as possible. We should arm train and support the Ukranians.

Risk nuclear war? Yep coz it wont happen now but if we try later to push him out of territory he thinks is his and he has gained by such tactics he will be MUCH more Likely to use them.

However the supine moves by the French and Germans, who want the cheap gas and to sell their luxury cars to the ologarcs and will in effect sell out the Ukranians for

“MERCEDES SALES IN OUR TIME”

Fills me with disgust.

They are ready to conceed territorial realignment by force to keep the peace. With a leader who has allready broken treaties with a millitary annexation. In Europe in the 21st century.

The parallels with Munich get easier and easier.

Carthagio Delendo est!

Deja Vu
Deja Vu
February 22, 2015 12:49 pm

Here is a photograph of the 25th Bn The Middlesex Regiment parading in Omsk 94 years

http://www.siberianexpedition.ca/images/story/ward_5.jpg

Been there do that no need to do it again, let’s learn from Iraq and Afghanistan – the reunion tour is always a disappointment.

PS
I be asked this before but there may be history buffs lurking. When I did all arms radio user Voice procedure in the 1970’s the example in the Army Publication of spelling a word was ‘Go to Omsk , I spell Oscar Mike Sierra Kilo’.
Now my question is was there some catastrophic balls up due the primitive radios at the time.

Nick
Nick
February 22, 2015 12:50 pm

The Minsk agreement is a desperate attempt to keep the peace. I doubt anyone (including Germany/France) believes it will work (under the agreement Kyiv gets to control the Russian border in a devolved Donbass. This needs to separatists to hand back their weapons and accept the rule of law. I cant see this happening).

The real “agreement” between Kyiv and Donbass is to separate – they are fighting over the location of the border, which hasn’t been agreed. Ukraine is broken for the foreseeable future. Eastern Ukraine wont become part of Russia or Ukraine (nobody wants it).

For Germany/France, stopping the fighting and moving to the next diplomatic stage must be judged marginally better than more sanctions and arming/training Kyiv. The UK seems clueless whatever happens. My guess would be that Obama will wait and see. Failure (as seems likely) will most probably lead to further US sanctions and US weapons for Kyiv. The EU will probably deepen sanctions as well.

Latvia has the highest Russian population in the Baltics. It is also the poorest of the three.

dave haine
dave haine
February 22, 2015 12:54 pm

I’m concerned that some commentators are only looking at a resurgent Russia in very one dimensional terms, for example in terms of naval forces.

Ever wonder why Ma Rasputin is not spending on naval forces? How many ships did he need for South Ossetia?, Chechnya? Ukraine?

He seems content to let the west wander about on the ‘Oggin, all the while chipping away at the newly(ish) independant, former Soviet Republics, creating, initially, buffer states between Russia and the expansionist (in russian eyes) EU and NATO, but with the ultimate aim (IMO) of recreating the USSR…

We must also remember that there have been, to my certain knowledge 40 incursions into UK airspace in the last few months, at least one causing major disruption to air traffic…

…Not sabre-rattling, but certainly a degree of provocation…

Gloomy Northern Boy
Gloomy Northern Boy
February 22, 2015 1:15 pm

“If I was in the Baltics, I would be scared”…The Baltics are in NATO…we are in NATO…NATO is a defensive alliance that will require us to help out the Baltics when the Czar gets arsy with them…there are no if, buts or maybes…

So if they need to be scared, we are required by Treaty to be just exactly as scared… :-(

Unless our working assumption is that the Treaty is now just so much medicated Izal…in which case, I might actually be a little more scared… :-( :-( …which I rather think is the point…

Still Gloomy.

Chris
Chris
February 22, 2015 1:23 pm

Gloomy – surely you aren’t asserting NATO is an alliance of convenience? (Izal pun intended.) As in it being a strong alliance right up until full-on military engagement is required at which point there would be much embarrassed looking at shuffling feet and wringing of hands and a hundred jolly reasonable excuses why alternative paths should be explored etc etc? Oh dear, my tiger appears to be made entirely of paper.

x
x
February 22, 2015 1:32 pm

But Putin is like Hitler. And if you think the Germans and the US engineered the coup you need to get a new tinfoil hat. If I see the words “appeasment” or Sudentaland or “just like 1938” again today it will drive me over the edge. OK even further over the edge than I am already.

On a well known politcal blog there is chap who thinks we should fight a nuclear war with Russia because they are that dangerous.

If the Russians are that dangerous can I have a semi-auto rifle on an FAC and 240 rounds at home to deal with Spetnaz? No? Ok then…….

Has Red Trousers ever broken bread with Sir Adrian Bradshaw? Bradshaw seems to be a bit excitable……….

Adrian
Adrian
February 22, 2015 1:32 pm

I think the fundamentals of the reply to the article are basically correct – but with one addition, and that is Russia is fundamentally no further “developed” than it was under the Czars and Communists – it is a country governed by “force”, and the only thing they respect/understand is “force”.

Hence, the boots on the ground argument – it is the only thing that will stop them/Putin – because it is the only thing they understand (in a geo-political sense)- saying that, starving people always had the final word in Russia, as people with full stomachs do not tend to rebel…..

As for Putin/Russia actually pushing further west – they will try as long as they feel they can….and sanctions will not change that…..

As for the article from the “Telegraph”……hahahahahahahaha…….to think that some people will actually read it and believe it, just shows, that some of the British press is as dumb as the US press…..wonder if there is a job share going on with Fox News??!!

Sir Humphrey
February 22, 2015 1:49 pm

Articles like this make me sad that I’m no longer able to write PSL :-(

TrT
TrT
February 22, 2015 1:58 pm

The German army recently deployed on a joint exercise without machine gun barrels according to a dubious article I read recently.
Its typhoon fleet is effectively grounded.

I read a report a while ago that the UK had fewer than forty operable tanks, at first I dismissed this as someone mistaking the climate controlled war ready models for broken, but the main thrust of the piece was that the armoured regiments had been contributing to afghanistan.

There have been constant complaints (by people with an axe to grind to be fair) that the tornado fleet is wildly unreliable and in any event commited to ISIS annoying.

It would take the UK two weeks to move 1st armoured from Hohne to Kiev, we just don’t have that many heavy transporters, and that assumes we still have nearly 150, I’m sure they were cut to 80 which leaves us nearly a month to move 1200km.

Russia is unlikely to bomb England anytime soon, but the idea that the mighty European armies could crush Russia doesn’t quite track.
Especially if we get more amigious warfare, one of the Baltic’s could lose its energy supply very easily with no more effort on Russia’s parts than a few trucks of guns and ammo.

TrT
TrT
February 22, 2015 2:04 pm

‘I can’t really believe that anyone in the Russian hierarchy can seriously believe that NATO/EU membership up to the national border is an actual threat to Russia itself.’

And yet ethnic Russians who live on the Russian border and want to join Russia are a clear and present danger to England?

Nick
Nick
February 22, 2015 2:08 pm

@TrT

Lithuania has just completed a LNG facility which has the capacity to supply roughly the entire gas needs of the three Baltic republics. A Berlin airlift type scenario with LNG vessels would be called for.

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2014-10-27/lithuania-grabs-lng-in-effort-to-curb-russian-dominance

Kaliningrad is as exposed as it has no land border with Russia at all. Tit for tat anyone ?

Nick
Nick
February 22, 2015 2:13 pm

@Trt

Not at all. Russia doesn’t have any direct danger for the UK today. The danger is indirect from our political and military relationships (EU and NATO) with Poland and the Baltic States.

wrt the Russians in the Baltics, one might ask whether it was a good idea to economically and politically marginalise them in the first place. Perhaps a greater stake in the future of the country might have had a more positive outcome ?

DavidNiven
DavidNiven
February 22, 2015 2:34 pm

Germany Cancels Planned Armored Vehicles’ Supplies to Lithuania

http://sputniknews.com/europe/20150222/1018595847.html

The cancellation of the weapons supplies means that the German government respects the agreement between NATO and Russia on non-deployment of large military units in Eastern Europe, according to the German newspaper “Die Welt”

Shame we don’t have any FRES UV’s to sell them.

GAB
GAB
February 22, 2015 2:34 pm

IXION and Wise Ape are spot on.

NATO and the EU are a collection of entities, and it there are many, many ways Mr Putin can cause chaos throughout the continent while nibbling here and there.

Putin is unlikely to to go as far as France in even the most fantastic scenario thanks to the nuclear deterrent, but how much the bear can consume is a fair guess.

Rather than the Baltic states, the Balkans seem quite ripe for the type of campaign that Putin has waged in the Crimea.

GAB

Red Trousers
Red Trousers
February 22, 2015 2:35 pm

Why don’t we*** just shoot down the next pair of Bears that fly south?

*** I mean not us, obviously. Someone deniable. The Bears just don’t fly back. Do that a few times, plus any submarines that venture beyond port, they won’t be trying it again.

S O
S O
February 22, 2015 2:36 pm

The entire Russia scare is an embarrassment for those who are scared.

They mistake an uptick in Russian aggressiveness with a Russian ability to even only come close to EU military power. Them getting startled only reveals their unfitness for commenting on military affairs in the past decade.

http://defense-and-freedom.blogspot.de/2015/02/countering-russia-with-military-spending.html

“I do believe we should begin to slightly increase defence spending”
scratch “defence”, insert “military”
The UK spends more than necessary for defence and cannot get more than peace and security by spending more. All additional spending can only be good for the offence.

The Other Chris
February 22, 2015 2:36 pm

@Sir H

Most of us miss your articles too. Any wriggle room on certain topics?

Simon257
Simon257
February 22, 2015 2:53 pm

In regards to the Daily Telegraph, you only have to see the row that has erupted after the resignation of Peter Oborne and the accusations now flying round:

http://www.eureferendum.com/blogview.aspx?blogno=85453

Dan
Dan
February 22, 2015 2:58 pm

@ dave haine, I used the detail on naval forces as an example, a big % increase from many years of nothing is still not a lot. There are similar issues in both ground and air forces.

Naval forces are the common example used when the threat is to the UK.

Ground forces intervened in South Ossettia and Georgia, south Ossettia wants to be independent of Georgia and Georgia prompted the most recent clash when it thought if it started a fight the US would come to its aid.
chechnya is part of Russia, in both cases Russia did not cover itself in glory.

Ukraine has got to the point where the majority of the East blame Kiev rather than Moscow for the recent fighting, in any fair vote the majority of the East would vote for pro-Russian parties demanding autonomy at the very least and now more likely independence or joining mother-Russia. Their economy is much more closely linked to Russia, when the EU and IMF talk about reforms it means close down uneconomic and bankrupt mines and steelworks in the Donbass, there is nothing for them in closer links to the EU.

The point is it is not in the Strategic interest of the UK to care about some marginal adjustments of the Russian border that are an accident of history of accepting the 1991 borders of the Republic as independent.

It is not in the interest of UK for Georgia or Ukraine to ever join NATO, as it would simply weaken the Article 5 guarantee, the Treaty means we are willing to risk a nuke on Birmingham or Manchester to protect if they joined Mariupol or Tbilisi and the simple truth is we are not.

In terms of the Baltics the hybrid warfare model works if there is a substantial dissalusioned minority in the country, the best solution to that is integrate and improve the ecconomic lot of the Russian speaking minorities. In Latvia that is 25% of the population and more than half of them are non-citizens with no vote. Messy protests by Russian speaking Latvian residents are going to be much harder to deal with in terms of persuading NATO to commit to action than straightforward Russian invasion.

DavidNiven
DavidNiven
February 22, 2015 3:02 pm

Aren’t the Baltics trying to step up and pay for it themselves already? they seem to be trying to spend money to modernise their forces and Poland cannot be accused of not spending money either.

I don’t think the US would have a choice if Russia physically threatened the Baltics, Poland would drag them the UK and any other willing nation into the fray.

S O
S O
February 22, 2015 3:07 pm

:

The Baltic countries aren’t only members of NATO, but also of the EU. The EU treaty is an alliance with a choice of words much less prone to interpretation than the North Atlantic Treaty.

An invasion of the Baltic countries by Russia would trigger conventional war with the EU, the question is merely whether the EU military might would actually launch a major counteroffensive.

Gloomy Northern Boy
Gloomy Northern Boy
February 22, 2015 3:17 pm

@Chris…actually worse than that…I don’t think the political class actually believe in their heart of hearts that anything is real outside their own tiny, self-important, internally regulated and hermetically sealed world…where a “triumph” at PMQ’s or a “disaster” in tomorrow morning’s BBC R4 Today programme matter infinitely more than thousands of dead civilians in the Ukraine, Libya, under the Black Banners of Da’esh or indeed any number of other places…and from their failure to get to grips either with the Euro or indeed the Ukraine I have no great confidence that their European counterparts are any better… :-(

The horrible reality is that they cannot think of how to deal with Czar Putin because at a visceral level they don’t really quite believe that such a person could be real, and actually running a quite big country with substantial resources and largish even if rather ramshackle Armed Forces…their instinct is that he is an ogre in a fairy-tale who will disappear if they close their eyes and wish really, really hard.

GNB

IXION
February 22, 2015 3:39 pm

Dan

It’s ok these are far away people of which we know nothing

Davidiven
Davidiven
February 22, 2015 3:44 pm

Why should they spend more than 2%? until recently they could not even afford to spend that money now they are probably going to be spending more than a fair few NATO members have for decades. Poland and Estonia have sent sizable formations to ISAF, where were the Portuguese and Belgians? It’s pretty shameful to critise fairly new members of the alliance with not spending enough when there have been parasites in the organisation for decades.

A few commentators on here have suggested not pulling out of Germany etc and all were met with don’t agitate Putin. If you cannot reorganise your defence by moving a few units within the borders of NATO for fear of annoying the Russians after they are starting to send messages to the west by flying their bombers towards us then it’s game set and match to Putin.

I half hope the Poles and the Baltics do whatever they feel they must to defend themselves without even a hat tip to NATO, after all it is they have the memories of living under a Russian regime until a couple of decades ago and not us in the comfortable UK.

S O
S O
February 22, 2015 3:49 pm

No, Martin. That was the Treaty of Maastricht, a different treaty of much lesser weight.

To violate the EU treaty severely means to de facto leave the EU.

The Soviets gave up on nuclear first use early in the 70’s already. There’s little reason to expect the Russians to use even only tactical nukes in the Baltics in case of a counteroffensive there. I suppose conventional warfare between EU and Russia in the Baltics would happen if Russia invaded, but the EU would NOT threaten to march into St. Petersburg. A counter-offensive would stop soon after the original borders were re-established. That is, if negotiations during and after a EU/NATO counter-concentration in Poland wouldn’t succeed.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
February 22, 2015 3:52 pm

Whoever wrote this article should either be sacked or sent to work for the Sun. Never in the course of human history has one person written so much clueless crop about defence :)ru

At So, the EU is an administrative irrelevance in Defence terms, NATO would run any op.

Gloomy Northern Boy
Gloomy Northern Boy
February 22, 2015 4:01 pm

@Martin…notice that these individuals exist, these issues are real…and as the Leaders of a serious Country (UNSC Permanent Seat, G7 Economy, in the “top” 5% or at worst 10% of all 200+ UN recognised states by pretty much any measure bar physical size and readily available natural resources) part of their job is to think in a serious way about how they might most usefully contribute alongside others to solving them…

…rather than spending their time defending a bunch of trashy attack ads on an admittedly even more useless leader of the opposition…the one inclined to trade away seventy years of foreign and defence policy to secure a very brief period of minority government from a party whose main aim is to break up the world’s most successful long-term political union.

Markedly Gloomy.

El Sid
El Sid
February 22, 2015 4:03 pm


When the people of Moscow are starving on the street’s Putin will not last long.

That fundamentally misunderstands Russian psychology. They wear suffering as a badge of pride, they’ve sadly had far too much experience of it. The more that the West is perceived as hurting ordinary Russians, the more it helps a Russian leader perceived as strong enough to stand up to the West, being disloyal to that leader is like being disloyal to Russia herself. The Russian economy is in the toilet, but Putin still has 85% approval ratings.

More likely is the South American model, where a leader with massive popular support gets kicked out by the military prompted by vested interests who suffer when business is bad. But Putin’s done a pretty good job of securing himself on that front, so I doubt that will happen either.

One number to watch is their foreign reserves, currently $368bn (down $100bn since June). There seems to be a general thought that around $330bn represents a tipping point where it starts causing them serious problems.

Gloomy Northern Boy
Gloomy Northern Boy
February 22, 2015 4:10 pm

@El Sid…I’m guessing they could make an arrangement with the Chinese to get paid in dollars for oil; in fact that might be the normal set-up anyhow; and I’d guess it might suit the Han Empire to help out…doesn’t hurt them, does perplex us…

GNB

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
February 22, 2015 4:18 pm

Those that apply the 1939 mirror model conveniently forget a few things. In 1939 the German air force had been involved in the Spanish civil war and their land forces were the most professiinal and well drilled in existence. We on the other hand still deployed cavalry regiments to India and Egypt.
Today we have NATO forces that have fought large scale integrated conventional conflicts with superiority in both equipment and numbers facing Russian forces that have zero large scale conventional experience and have inferior eqipment and numbers.
There endeth the military reality.

Mark
Mark
February 22, 2015 4:23 pm

There’s much talk on this thread about nato not stepping up to the plate but the Baltic air policing mission is now permeant and all are contributing http://www.janes.com/article/47529/nato-rotates-baltic-air-policing-mission. Did the army not begin running exercises in Poland ect and I’m sure other things are happening too.

S O
S O
February 22, 2015 4:24 pm

@Matin: Sorry.

http://www.lisbon-treaty.org/wcm/the-lisbon-treaty/treaty-on-european-union-and-comments/title-5-general-provisions-on-the-unions-external-action-and-specific-provisions-/chapter-2-specific-provisions-on-the-common-foreign-and-security-policy/section-2-provisions-on-the-common-security-and-defence-policy/129-article-42.html

quote
“7. If a Member State is the victim of armed aggression on its territory, the other Member States shall have towards it an obligation of aid and assistance by all the means in their power, in accordance with Article 51 of the United Nations Charter. This shall not prejudice the specific character of the security and defence policy of certain Member States.”

compare to the weak article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty:

“The Parties agree that an armed attack against one or more of them in Europe or North America shall be considered an attack against them all and consequently they agree that, if such an armed attack occurs, each of them, in exercise of the right of individual or collective self-defence recognised by Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations, will assist the Party or Parties so attacked by taking forthwith, individually and in concert with the other Parties, such action as it deems necessary, including the use of armed force, to restore and maintain the security of the North Atlantic area.

Any such armed attack and all measures taken as a result thereof shall immediately be reported to the Security Council. Such measures shall be terminated when the Security Council has taken the measures necessary to restore and maintain international peace and security .”

The North Atlantic Treaty’s choice of words is super-elastic by comparison. And what I saw of the famous 3% rule in the Maastricht Treaty was very elastic as well, more about reporting than a binding requirement and the possibility of waivers was built-in.

The original Maastricht Treaty has been overridden (amended, partially replaced) etc. by later treaties including the Lisbon treaty.
http://eur-lex.europa.eu/collection/eu-law/treaties-force.html

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
February 22, 2015 4:34 pm

@SO

Sorry but your interpretation of the Englisg languages is wrong here. The EU charter has a huge get out clause when it says “in their power” sorry lofty we are skint or not interested so it is not in our power to deploy armed forces today.

Where as the NATO article 5 specifically refers to armed force and an attack on all.

The EU as a military organisation is a Sop to keep a few French and Germans happy in reality NATO would always be the C2 structure.

Chris Werb
Chris Werb
February 22, 2015 4:37 pm

I think it’s simplistic to say something like “They have one aircraft carrier, but it’s old and smaller than our two will be” or “NATO outnumbers the Russian Army 4:1” or whatever. It’s not like our carriers will square off against theirs or our troops will face theirs with a 4:1 local numerical superiority. If the Russians had any sense at all, they would fight assymetrically. Even one SSN leaking into mid Atlantic could play hell with our economy as could surprise ALCM/SLCM attacks on key military targets and civilian infrastructure. They know precisely where all our warships are tied up alongside and where our Typhoons, AWACS etc. are parked. There essentially no readiness and no defence against such potential attacks. I find it amazing that local government resilience planning now assigns war a similar level of probability to zombie outbreaks.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
February 22, 2015 4:41 pm

Werb

Is it not also simplistic to think we would ignore such an attack and perhaps the US with B2 and a few unannounced toys may decide to leave Russia with no power?

Hohum
Hohum
February 22, 2015 4:42 pm

APATS,

Confusing US with NATO there. No European country has fought any major conflict with more than 10,000 men for decades (if not longer)- and that’s only the UK. Russia on the other hand has successfully concluded three significant military operations in the last 20 years (second Chechen war, Georgia, Crimea/Donbas).

All,

EU military power, that’s hilarious. The cuts the British Army has received have been mirrored across the rest of the alliance- in some cases in more extreme fashion. Of the former Warsaw Pact states only Poland is worth talking about. The Dutch barely have any armour left, German troops are using broomsticks to mimic the machine guns they wish they had, the French just sold one of their Navy’s new built frigates to Egypt, the Luftwaffe has a spares shortage, etc, etc. The problem with European “military power” is it’s a collection of countries spending ever smaller sums (in real terms) of money maintaining not very useful forces- mostly on the assumption that America will guarantee their security. Protestations about Europe’s almighty military strength rest on often outdated troop numbers from the likes of Jane’s and IISS. Strip out the inaccuracies and start getting into the guts of the force structure and things are not pretty.

mickp
mickp
February 22, 2015 4:45 pm

@APATs “Today we have NATO forces that have fought large scale integrated conventional conflicts with superiority in both equipment and numbers facing Russian forces that have zero large scale conventional experience and have inferior eqipment and numbers.”

I assume you are not proposing that means we (as in NATO collectively and UK specifically) can / should cut further to reduce the apparent overmatch?

Also large scale conventional experience may be not, but developing considerable experience in b***ering about in others affairs in an asymmetric sense. Are we ready for that?

IXION
February 22, 2015 4:46 pm

APATS

How about 1936 when the German Army was training with motorcycles covered in canvass because it didnt have any tanks?

How about the fact that the first fully motorised army in the world was the British Army and the Germans used horses and carts throughout the war including to pull artillery, (and deployed Cavalry throughout the war).

How about the P1 tank being pretty useless and the P2 outclassed by a lot of the opposition.

More importanty.

How about the fact Hitler did not want war with the west (at that point), recognising that his forces were on paper way too weak to win such a contest. Poland was just another grab at territory to restore the Reich to its pre WW1 borders he thought after the supine response over CZECHOSLOVAKIA there was no real risk of war with France and UK. (He was seriously pissed at Von R when Chamberlain declared war).

In fact.

How about you go back and study the economic and millitary situation in Europe and Germany 1933-39. The parrallels are massive.

Dont get Conned by all that Nazi War Machine tripe on the History Channel.

AH was a chancer who pulled one stunt to many, missreading the signs from his enemies and got called out on it.

The fact that after the event, Germany proved a lot tougher (and in reality the allies a lot more crap), is irrelevent.

This is exactly like the mid 30’s.

Here endeth The history lesson

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
February 22, 2015 4:48 pm

@Hohum

So are the US not in NATO now? Not confusing anything. Your Russian wars are hilarous,small scale or unconventional.

Janes and IISS i dare say probably are better informed than you.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
February 22, 2015 4:54 pm

Yet again you only offer one side of the story, history is fine but is often a matter of opinion, yours is clear many historians disagree.
I offered a military analysis from a professional military staff qualified officer.

Hohum
Hohum
February 22, 2015 4:58 pm

APATS,

I can assure they are not. And just adding up their personnel numbers to declare “4:1 advantage to Europe!” is ridiculous.

And do tell me, what were Iraq, Libya and Afghanistan if not small scale and unconventional as far as their European participants involvement went?

The mocking of Russian military capability is both unhelpful and inaccurate; they possess some impressive capabilities sorely lacking from most of Europe, notably air defence and increasingly deep strike. Their ability to mobilize large forces and move them rapidly to their borders is equally impressive. Furthermore, in the numbers game they are not as far behind even total European stats as we like to think they are, especially in airpower and armour.

monkey
monkey
February 22, 2015 5:04 pm

Germany prior to WW2 shared its mk1 & 2 tank designs with Czechoslovakia who manufactured them and other German designs of weapons and Czechoslovakia was happy to form closer more stable ties with its new dynamic neighbour. When Germany annexed Czechoslovakia it doubled its tank making facilities overnight amongst other useful production facilities as well as raw material production.
In the Ukraine a similar situation would occur the various facilities built by the Soviets , the shipyards at Odessa ( who built all the Soviet era heavy warships , carriers included , the Vayrag was built there) , the Antonov aircraft factories ( who bid for the Euro military transport aircraft that became the A400M) , the tank production factories not to mention the agricultural output ( the Ukraine was known as the bread basket of Europe and did anyone mention Russia starving?) The annexation of the Ukraine would allow a link up with the Russian ethnics in Moldova too as well as securing 100% of the recent oil and gas discoveries in the Northern Black sea.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
February 22, 2015 5:05 pm

@Hohum

We neber even put boots on the grounn Libya. To call Iraq either small scale or unconventional in the initial phases is massively ignorant. Yet again you say European, as if the US has left NATO.

I am not mocking Russian military capability, merely mocking this article which is nonsense. The Russians would struggle to keep a conventional Brigade plus in the field for a month. That is where they are, not many countries could do that but it does not make them a million man army marching on the Channel.

Peter Elliott
February 22, 2015 5:06 pm

I’m sure the material and readiness state of NATO forces isn’t great compared to the standard of say 1990. Some will be better than others. But I’m sure that if the orders came the UK, US, France and one or two others could get a credible armoured force into the field in sufficiently short order.

What worries me is getting the orders out in time. Every signal coming out of the chancellories of Europe shows a lack of understanding and resolve. Even our own Mr Cameron seems shy about the 2 percent commitment and happy to gag General Carter from making a planned speach in order not to upset the Russians. The charade of Minsk 2 shows Putin playing Merkel and Hollande for fools. Every such action validates and strengthens the Russian strategy of sowing confusion and discord amongst the alliance.

Leaving aside the example of Hitler in 1933-9 we could perhaps consider Argentina in 1982. Yes we cobbled together a barely sufficient force out of the remnants of a once mighty capability that did manage to retake the Islands. But we should never have had to do that if we had sent strong and consistent signals of intent before the invasion. Because the invasion would never have come.

What we need now is a conspicuous display of resolve through full sanctions, diplomatic solidarity and conspicuous military and economic preparedness. How about ramping up LPG deliveries to Lithuania for a start.

mickp
mickp
February 22, 2015 5:20 pm

I don’t quite buy the analogies to WW2 and AH etc. However, what I do see is the fact that we in the UK have a pretty poor track record of being ready for the next conflict (at least in the last 100 or so years).

Now is not the time for cutting defence expenditure. It is however the time for a clean sheet of paper approach to the threat analysis and questioning of our DPAs and force structure

Dan
Dan
February 22, 2015 5:21 pm

I know about 1938 but the point is they really are a far away people of which we know nothing.

We abandoned the Czechs because it was not in our strategic interest to risk all out war to save them, in hindsight that was a mistake but at the time it made sense.

The Balts and the Poles are making lots of effort to ensure they are NOT seen as a far away people, the journey to creating a country called Europe with a single currency, and passport, and free movement and elections to a joint Parliament from the Easts point of view is to ensure if the Russians come calling the rest of Europe does not look the other way.

Cossacks fighting in the Donbass sounds like Russia’s problem.

Latvia well not quite sure where it is but, that nice waitress at Starbucks comes from there, and so does the plumber I used last month etc etc, they are European and we will fight for them.

In the mood some of Britain is in at present we would not fight to protect even the Belgians never mind NATO further East, but increasingly across the channel EU is becoming a single union.

Hohum
Hohum
February 22, 2015 5:23 pm

APATS,

For the invasion of Iraq, twelve years ago and only covering about a two month period, Britain managed to cobble together 46,000 personnel- by admission of the 2010 SDSR it could only manage about two thirds of that now- at best. After those two months Britain’s sustained deployment to Iraq and Afghanistan combined was about 10,000.

Estimates put the total number of Russian personnel involved in the Georgia operation (all three services) at up to 40,000 (and exercises aside that was from a near standing start) and aside from Russian backed militias they had no allies. They have managed to hold tens of thousands on the Ukrainian border for months without breaking a sweat. That’s the other impressive thing about them- their readiness levels. They can mobilise and be ready to overrun whichever neighbour they so choose in a very short period of time.

monkey
monkey
February 22, 2015 5:24 pm

The Russian armed forces , both Army and Interior Ministry , had quite extensive experience fighting in Chechnya . They (re)learnt a lot about fighting in both built up and mountainous areas. Similar for the Russian air force supporting ground operations. At times they had over 80,000 combat troops (note combat not the logistics train which was almost all in securely held Russian territory) on the ground fighting a bitter and determined experienced multi-national forces (think of an Jihadist Islamisist force and they where there) . The Chechnya forces themselves were highly motivated by their own parents/grand parents experience of being deported enmasse to the Kazach region by Stalin after the war as German sympathizers and only allowed to return decades latter. Only those who had a strong national urge to live within Chechnya bothered and gave a strong base for the insurgency to spring from. Russian losses officially are about 5000+ Army , 3500+ Interior ministry troops but others state they were much higher. Many Russia troops have been deployed to regions were the conditions are atrocious from high deserts to the Siberian border to the Artic Ocean coast so that alone should of taught them to use their kit in harsh conditions and toughen them up somewhat. Not a force to be dismissed.

El Sid
El Sid
February 22, 2015 5:24 pm

@GNB
I’m guessing they could make an arrangement with the Chinese to get paid in dollars for oil; in fact that might be the normal set-up anyhow; and I’d guess it might suit the Han Empire to help out…doesn’t hurt them, does perplex us…

They’re already paid in USD for their oil – in fact it’s their main source of foreign currency. It soon gets paid out to pay for eg their considerable food imports and all the other calls on their foreign currency, and that’s before you take account of the capital flight that’s happening at the moment.

Renmimbi borrowing isn’t going to save them either – the Chinese don’t do charity, and yields on dimsum bonds have been increasing for some time :
http://www.bruegel.org/nc/blog/detail/article/1421-fact-dim-sum-bonds-are-not-coming-to-rescue-russias-banks/

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
February 22, 2015 5:29 pm

@Hohum

On their borders is the key phrase you used, als not all those troops are at OR. The Channel is not on their borders. The hyperbole is inaccurate, they are stretched supporting the rebels in Ukraine.
Amateurs talk numbers, professionals study logistics.

Hohum
Hohum
February 22, 2015 5:29 pm

monkey,

Absolutely. Unfortunately whilst many in the west reveled in the tails of Russia’s collapsing Armed Forces from the 90s they missed two significant things. The slow rebirth of the Russian military into a significantly powerful force and the spectacular collapse of combat power across Europe. Take the US out of the equation and the balance of power is not what many in Europe think it is.

IXION
February 22, 2015 5:30 pm

APATS

Sorry but from you position as a staff officer, have you ever looked at the logistical situation of the German Army at the start of the war?

The published tables of OB of units both sides of the line? The action reports from the Spanish civil war?

The numbers of sexy armoured divisions, compared with the majority horse drawn and marching infantry divisions?

And most importantly the way in which an economically broke country multiplied massivly its armed forces over a 7 year period into ‘the most profesional in the world’.

Never forget all those British army papers you will have read were written by loosers with a very big motive for bigging up the team that kicked their butts.

‘We lost because we were outnumbered with out classed tanks etc”

Is a lot easier to write than

“we lost cos we was crap”

Have a read of the German Armed forces assesments of the French campaign written just after the French surrender.

I paraphrase, a lot but to freely translate..

“How in the name of all that’s holy did we get away with it”…..

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
February 22, 2015 5:34 pm

You talk about why, I study how. You are only looking at one side of the coin and times have changed. Your line about “loosers” pretty much sums up your stance.
Again I offer a professional trained 2015 summary, looking at both sides of the capability equation. The article is nonsense.

Hohum
Hohum
February 22, 2015 5:38 pm

APATS,

The Russians are not “stretched” supporting the rebels in Ukraine, in fact they are anything but. They were able to snatch Crimea whilst massing on Ukraine’s Eastern border. As far as NATO is concerned those forces are operationally ready- and have been for months. My favorite quote from this entire saga came from Breedlove last year:

“The (Russian) force that is at the Ukrainian border now to the east is very, very sizable and very, very ready”

Unhelpful Telegraph hyperbole aside, the point stands. The Russians have regenerated a powerful military that holds the capability to overrun its immediate neighbours if it so chooses.

IXION
February 22, 2015 5:41 pm

I actualy agree the article is nonsene.

As I have said the Russsians are not going to roll tanks west.

However in 1933-5 British staff officers would have said the same thing about Adolf and his boys.

As for ‘loosers’ I dont care what historian you read I dont care how revisonist his or her views, nor do I care what the professional military assesment is.

We lost France 1940 big time!!!

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
February 22, 2015 5:42 pm

@Hohum

I do not base my opinions on Telegraph or indeed any other newspaper articles. There is a lot of hyperbole being used and what you spout about NATO readiness goes times 3 for the Russians.

Jonathan
Jonathan
February 22, 2015 5:52 pm

I think the arguments over levels of conventional forces is a bit of a red herring. Im happy to take APATS view on the disparity between NATO and Russian forces ( everything I have read supports this).

What scares me is that:

1) The stressors along the present European nation states/russian fault line are of a type that have historically always led to wars. The area needs rebalancing and the only way we know how to do this is by fighting (simple fact) it’s happened now and it’s going to keep happening for a while yet.

2) In a non nuclear world this would simply had led to a number of minor conflicts followed by a major powers war( in which NATO would hold all the cards) and a rebalancing of power,nation state boarders, mass movement of ethnic groups and the foundations for the next round of stressors to develop.

3) We live in a Nuclear world, NATO and Russia have the capacity to take rebalancing to a whole new level ( as in a complete reset). This scares me, In my view history tells us that NATO and Russia are likley to make war on each other within a short to medium time frame ( say within 10 years). What histoty also tells us that the desperate will use every tool to defend themselves and fight against a stronger enemy. History gives us no lesions on how to prevent a hot war between nuclear powers going nuclear. The only mitigation I know to prevent two nuclear powers from killing large numbers of each other’s populations is to not go to war in the first place ( hence the Cold War).

We need to find a way to rebalance the region ASAP without a major conflict with Russia. Maybe a new iron curtain and living with MAD is the only tool we have in the box ? it stopped everyone dying in a nasty way post WW2.

Hohum
Hohum
February 22, 2015 5:52 pm

APATS,

Thats the point, it doesn’t. Current Russian readiness is very high indeed. They have consistently demonstrated, not just in the execution of government policy but also through exercises, the ability to mobilise land forces of up to 50,000 in very short order. The UK represents the gold standard in Europe and certainly couldn’t manage that- or much close to it. As you start looking across Europe things get considerably worse very quickly. The enhanced NATO response force only gets to 30,000. And it’s not just a numbers game. To cut costs the Europeans have cut out the real bulk from their heavy land forces and their air forces, the Dutch being the extreme example but the same being true across Europe with the exception of Norway.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
February 22, 2015 5:56 pm

@Hohum

They have demonstrated the ability to muster and locally employ either in exercises or against a no way near peer threat locally.

That is one thing what this article describes and anyone who knows how a campaign works understands is totally different.

Hohum
Hohum
February 22, 2015 6:06 pm

APATS,

Indeed, but nobody in Europe has demonstrated the ability to do anymore than that either. In fact most European forces (Brits and to a lesser extent the French aside) have considerably less recent combat experience than the Russians do. And that’s before we get into the real guts of a proper capability assessment.

John Hartley
John Hartley
February 22, 2015 6:09 pm

I do not think Putin is going to send his tanks to Calais, but I do fear an “incident”, like the Chinese fighter that collided with a US P-3 forcing it to land in China. Huge embarrassment all round.

Some say Russia does not want NATO at its borders, but look at it the other way round. Will Poland stand for Putin taking Lviv or other former Polish lands in Western Ukraine?

Time for a cascade of surplus weapons i.e. Belgium/Holland/Germany gift any surplus F-16/Leopard 2 to central Europe, then those states (Czech/Poland) give their surplus Warsaw Pact weapons to Ukraine.

Then Cameron needs to take the 2% oath. Might even be good politics as it would then put Milliband on the spot.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
February 22, 2015 6:12 pm

@Hohum

I feel like a lecturer back at staff college.

1. We have deployed and supported a Brigade plus at 3000 miles plus for 15 years actually.

2. We are not the forces that would have to support at range.

3. We are talking about NATO not just Europe.

4. Ever done a capability assessment?

Hohum
Hohum
February 22, 2015 6:23 pm

APATS,

Not a very good lecturer. Whoopdy-doo, a brigade- from one of the main powers within NATO; really impressive stuff right there.

So what if it’s not at range, the British Army is headed below 85,000 men and barely 200 MBTs. The entire NATO reaction force at full mobilisation gets you less troops than the Russian’s have parked on Ukraine’s border when they weren’t trying very hard. Oh, and in large part it will be at range- the UK is still pulling troops away from Russia overall, not forward deploying them.

No, we are talking about Europe. The pathetic reliance on the US for just about anything of genuine military substance is why that country is getting increasingly fed up with Europe. But you do make the point very well, NATO military capability is increasingly just what the US is willing to bring to the table.

mickp
mickp
February 22, 2015 6:26 pm

@APATS

3. We are talking about NATO not just Europe.

We are but is it right that in 2015 we collectively in Europe still rely on the 7th cavalry coming over the hill?

Times are changing in the US and one can understand them at some stage losing the political will to keep bank rolling our security

IXION
February 22, 2015 6:27 pm

APATS

You are rather answering the question no one is asking.

I know, and I think everyone else here knows, that the Calais Bording houses are not going to have to stock up on Lemon for tea, and cleaner for fur boots.

From the Staff officer perspective what does NATO do if the Latvian Russians start rebeling and Russian Volunteers start helping?

Then Lithuania, Estonia, Moldova? Belarus is already firmly in Putins Orbit.

I know they are NATO Members but what does NATO do about it.

At which point is a slightly resergent Rusian Army on Polands borders a UK worrying threat?

Given that we would have to consider a re evaluation of our prorities Eg Elephants fuck all use in a European War.

The Other Chris
February 22, 2015 6:28 pm

Eastern Ukraine was never Putin’s end game, Crimea was in this chapter. Everything else he gains down there is a bonus.

Consider Russian forces involved: Spec forces within Ukraine with logistics and support on the borders, once Crimean beachheads secure in poured the conventional units to consolidate.

Perfect use of misdirection and it’s still got authors talking Eastern Ukraine and not Crimea.

Phil
February 22, 2015 6:33 pm

By “we” IXION you mean France and GB?

The fundamental difference between 1935 and now is that we flat out refused to officially countenance being involved in a land war on the continent. We’re very over that misconception now, and the Germans remain aggressive when their interests are at stake. Diplomatically for now but you can easily see Germany leading any initiative to increase defence spending and force structure if Russia applied pressure to the Baltic states.

Hopefully Russia will realise how forcefully we’d respond to their pressure there but then that didn’t and doesn’t stop us from interfering in Ukraine.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
February 22, 2015 6:46 pm

@Hokum

We are not reliant on the US but NATO exists.
Note no answer on capability assessment experience.

Hohum
Hohum
February 22, 2015 6:49 pm

APATS,

Note you have avoided/ignored innumerable points in this thread.

NATO is not an absolute, which is why Poland and the Baltics are so desperate to get some US and Western European troops permanently based on their soil.

Overseas
Overseas
February 22, 2015 6:50 pm

“Amateurs talk about tactics, but professionals study logistics.”
– Gen. Robert H. Barrow, USMC (Commandant of the Marine Corps), 1980.

Hmm. Sounds familiar.

A great deal of attention for a silly little column, itself quite obviously part of the initial electioneering ahead of the GE and the next SDSR.

Peter Elliott
February 22, 2015 6:52 pm

Phil

Just hope the Germans liven up to the threat in time. Mallinson wrote something similar in The Times recently. And by the way his assessment of current German readiness levels was a lot closer to Hohum’s view than APATS’.

At the moment Merkel isn’t filling me with much confidence.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
February 22, 2015 6:52 pm

On phone now so longer answers will need to wait.

Gloomy Northern Boy
Gloomy Northern Boy
February 22, 2015 6:53 pm

– Being a bit unfair about those Wehrmacht and SS Cavalry Divisions…on the Eastern Front they were pretty useful, especially against the Cossacks…a group which seem oddly topical in the light of this current punch-up. Mind you, so were our Cavalry in both the Mid-East and India…horses for courses, and all that?

By the by “Complacency” is defined as “self-satisfaction, especially when accompanied by unawareness…”. It’s good to share, isn’t it? :-)

GNB

monkey
monkey
February 22, 2015 7:01 pm

@ Overseas
“A great deal of attention for a silly little column, itself quite obviously part of the initial electioneering ahead of the GE and the next SDSR.”
Indeed , the 80 year old Barclay twins on their island fortress off Sark are probably behind this just to stir the debate, as in no debate on defence by the main parties. Only UKIP have put pen to paper and published and the general election I only 10 weeks away .

Challenger
Challenger
February 22, 2015 7:04 pm

I think we can construct a broad consensus on the situation with Russia not being a rerun of Germany’s expansionism in the 30s or specifically right now of Czechoslovakia in 1938 or that Putin is a 2015 Hitler, but that he is also a dangerous man with the potential to take some quite audacious rolls of the dice if he is continually afforded the chance.

Yes he is trying to spend beyond the Russian economies means, but just because we aren’t going to see dozens of tank divisions rolling Westwards doesn’t mean the situation isn’t a cause for concern and a threat which should be taken seriously.

A minimum of 2% spending here, trying to persuade the rest of Europe to do the same, a clear, concise, direct and forceful stance on the diplomatic front and increased NATO cooperation, exercises in East Europe etc sounds like a sensible way forwards.

Mike W
February 22, 2015 7:06 pm

Apologies if this question has entered the discussion earlier. On the “Andrew Marr Show” this morning, I think it was William Hague who mentioned that some NATO countries had already increased their defence spending. If so, which ones? Because I have not heard of any! That was followed by the usual complacent point about how the UK was spending at 2%, Mr. Hague conveniently forgetting that we might not be doing so in two years’ time.

I am willing to be corrected concerning the above.

Challenger

Have only just seen this:

“Yes he is trying to spend beyond the Russian economies means, but just because we aren’t going to see dozens of tank divisions rolling Westwards doesn’t mean the situation isn’t a cause for concern and a threat which should be taken seriously.

A minimum of 2% spending here, trying to persuade the rest of Europe to do the same, a clear, concise, direct and forceful stance on the diplomatic front and increased NATO cooperation, exercises in East Europe etc sounds like a sensible way forwards.”

Precisely. Extremely well put

IXION
February 22, 2015 7:15 pm

Challenger.

Nope no consensus from me.

I dont think we have got to Czechoslovakia. Yet. That comes next. When Iron Angi. And some French bloke who does Presidential impersonations, come back from Minsk with a peice of paper signed by Putin promising faithfully to be a good boy and not to say anything about the Baltic states.

Putin arrives back in Moscow and uncrosses his fingers……….

Phil
February 22, 2015 7:21 pm

PE

I understand that threats develop and things change. It’s been one of my constant themes on here for years. Its why I’ve argued for keeping a heavy division and other associated peer equipment; and its the only argument for CVF.

But as it stands Russia has been messing about in what is its own backyard whilst in the meantime as we’ve been flirting with Ukraine, we’ve conducted what are effectively unilateral military operations across the world including the invasion and occupation of a sovereign state in a very important part of the world.

Compared to us, the Russians are catatonic.

mickp
mickp
February 22, 2015 7:28 pm

@Challenger – a pragmatic and sensible course of action. I think we can say that the threat level lies somewhere between the bluster quoted in the article (and despite its inaccuracies, it does challenge the notion about overreacting) and denial and complacency at the other extreme. That’s a very wide spectrum and I won’t pretend to know where the threat really lies on that scale. I would however like to see all political parties moving the national security debate up the agenda and how they propose to deal with three key strategic issues on our doorstep that individually or collectively could impact us massively in the coming few years – the potential melt down of the Eurozone, the horrible mess in the ME (ISIS et al), spilling over into North Africa and possibly impacting the med and southern Europe and increased belligerence from Russia and the fragile nature of the former Soviet bloc states. Is not just about kit or numbers and it is fundamentally more important than the crap most of the main parties are pushing as key policy matters in the pre election give away bonanza (the winner being the one that gives most to the NHS)

mike
mike
February 22, 2015 7:47 pm

hmm I think we should send the BAOR to become the BAOP ;)

S O
S O
February 22, 2015 7:50 pm

Monkey, where did you make up this nonsense?
“Germany prior to WW2 shared its mk1 & 2 tank designs with Czechoslovakia who manufactured them and other German designs of weapons and Czechoslovakia was happy to form closer more stable ties with its new dynamic neighbour.”

The CSSR had an armsmaker company called Skoda that had its roots in the Habsburg empire, and it had automotive companies such as Tatra. Th Czechoslovakian tanks were indigenous designs which IIRC made use of a Swedish (Bofors) main gun. The engine, the gearbox, brakes, plates – everything Czech designs.

And neither the addition of the Czech tanks to the Wehrmacht nor the addition of the Skoda works doubled anything. The production effort of the Pz I tank in the mid-30’s in itself proved that the German heavy industries were capable of much more annual tank production (measured in vehicles, turnover or vehicles mass) than Skoda ever had before WW2.

And the Czechoslovakian ‘happiness’ regarding Nazi Germany was essentially about them building border fortifications.

@Apats:

“such action as it deems necessary” leaves much more room for interpretaiton than “assistance by all the means in their power”

monkey
monkey
February 22, 2015 7:57 pm

A link on the economics of Russia based on import / exports by country and products.
Their main imports are food at 13% of total imports by value ( how much is from food for oil deals with the third world it does not say) , the vehicles at 12% and onwards. Their balance of payments is on the positive side at about USD13bn PER month obviously propped up by petroleum product exports whose futures based contracts would to some extant been at the old USD100+ price but new ones will start to hit home in the near term ( futures vary from days to years but mostly are measured in six months or so ) Russian external debt , government and industry bonds are to be paid in foreign currencies and new issues at present are fetching 10% plus returns but with low take up by buyers on the low volumes offered .
http://www.google.co.uk/url?q=http://www.tradingeconomics.com/russia/imports&sa=U&ei=Xi3qVNzwKc_Q7Aaq1YBg&ved=0CAsQFjAA&sig2=L5XP4LEL9NoOYa-9Xd20Qg&usg=AFQjCNGUixnT3bio39S0mhs4wGOFP93jzQ

Challenger
Challenger
February 22, 2015 8:00 pm

As long as it’s properly funded and supported then i think a heavy brigade/lighter battle-groups available at short notice and a full heavy division/light brigade available within a few months isn’t a bad capability to end up with.

I’m sure a composite division made up of a heavy brigade, a light brigade made up of both para’s and commando’s (as in 1982), filled out with some spare light battalions and support elements could be put together at pretty short notice as well if we were ever caught unawares with a situation that required immediate action.

John Hartley
John Hartley
February 22, 2015 8:05 pm

Re NATO & the Baltic states. If it is an external army invading then other NATO states are obliged to help, but what if Putin denies any involvement & just sends badgeless volunteers? NATO does not get involved in civil wars. NATO did not get involved in Northern Ireland during the troubles.

mr.fred
mr.fred
February 22, 2015 8:27 pm

S O,
I would agree that there is no commonality between the Czechoslovakian 35 and 38 tanks and the German Marks 1 and 2. Considering that they are of similar mass, it would make no sense for the Czechoslovakians to build their own classes of tank that fill the same role if they were also sharing the designs for the German lights. That said, the Skoda light tanks were more heavily armed than the German lights and, following the annexation of the Sudetenland and subsequently the rest of the country, were taken in German service as the Pz 35 (t) and Pz 38 (t).

I would also point out that Czechoslovakia wasn’t known as the CSSR then and nor are the two countries called that now. Furthermore calling it that out of the correct context would not endear you to any of the Czechs or Slovaks I have met. In some cases in context would not be popular.
While it is technically true that Skoda existed during the Soviet occupation, I’m not sure that it existed as an arms manufacturer

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
February 22, 2015 8:27 pm

@So

Actually it does not, what it does is offer a get out clause as opposed to a get in clause.

S O
S O
February 22, 2015 9:05 pm

“While it is technically true that Skoda existed during the Soviet occupation, I’m not sure that it existed as an arms manufacturer”

I wrote

“an armsmaker company called Skoda that had its roots in the Habsburg empire”

Its most famous product was probably the excellent 75 mm mountain gun of 1915, though they also built very heavy and good siege mortars (304 mm IIRC) that gained some fame in WWI. Between the wars and in WW2 Skoda deserved a reputation for unusual designs, such as field guns with 80° maximum elevation and a strange 47 mm AAA gun that was vindicated as a design in 1945 when dual fuze (impact+time) shells proved that heavy AAA against bombers is better with impact than time fuzing.

sean rayment
sean rayment
February 22, 2015 9:05 pm

It was written by the Telegraph’s business news editor. Enough said.

Secundius
Secundius
February 22, 2015 9:21 pm

That’s a “hot one”, this is coming from a country that to cannibalize one Shipyard to repair another. Where it take 20-years just to build one submarine. Where a Fleet Tug has to be “a camp follower”, just in case one of it’s Naval Assets breaks down. And can’t supply Turbines and Torpedoes to their own Fleet. LMAO…

mr.fred
mr.fred
February 22, 2015 9:33 pm

S O,
Undoubtedly Skoda existed as an arms manufacturer during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. However, during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the country in which it existed was most assuredly not the CSSR.
The CSSR dates from 1960 to 1990. I don’t know whether Skoda was still in the arms business at that point.
If we are talking about periods before 1960 then variations on Czechslovakia would be appropriate. Post 1990 it would be the Czech republic (I don’t think Skoda had any works in Slovakia) I don’t know why someone would refer to the country(ies) as the CSSR unless they were referring to the specific period or were out for a spot of historic revisionism. The locals aren’t, as a rule, fond of reminders.

Mike W
February 22, 2015 9:38 pm

The Other Chris

Many thanks for the reply. Yes, that was the part of the William Hague interview I meant.

“Lithuania is one”

Thanks but do you (or does anyone else, come to that) know of any other NATO nation that has actually increased spending so far?

John Hartley
John Hartley
February 22, 2015 9:45 pm

Well Poland is in the process of raising its defence budget. It wants to buy 70 transport helicopters + a SAM system. The 2 contenders are SAMP-T & Patriot. Non NATO countries, Sweden & Finland are also buying new defence kit in response to Russian aggression.

Secundius
Secundius
February 22, 2015 9:45 pm

@ S O

Skoda is Headquartered in the Czech Republic, and was founded in 1895. Now owned by Volkswagen Group, with manufacturing sites in India, China (PRC), Russia, Slovakia, Kazakhstan and Ukraine…

John Hartley
John Hartley
February 22, 2015 9:56 pm

Just been to defensenews. They have an article saying Poland is to spend $42 billion over a decade on new kit. As well as the SAMs & helicopters, they plan to buy armoured personnel carriers, subs, combat drones + perhaps, some sort of cruise missile. The article was 16 Feb 2015.
defensenews is also reporting the go-ahead to fit Brimstone 2 to Typhoon.

monkey
monkey
February 22, 2015 10:03 pm

In terms of Poland , Lithuanian , Estonia , Latvia , Slovakia and Rumania increasing spending that would be good in terms of bolstering the bulwark of Europe’s eastern flank and I would suggest they spend it on training and manning as much ‘surplus’ equipment that can be ‘gifted’ to them. All the Dutch Leopard 2’s for an instance , Germany must have hundreds in storage too. The same goes for all classes of material, it should be provided in first class condition and with as many spares etc as can found both in individual nations stores and in manufacturers who often are contractually obliged to hold stocks too. Obviously western arms suppliers will lobby against such a measure as they will see it losing orders for shiny new kit but governments should be resistant to this and push the move east of as much hardware as can be integrated quickly . What’s the point of armour from light to heavy in Spain, Portugal , Italy , France or the UK for that matter which is not being regularly used for training or for immediate deployment? Deployed where exactly ? Oh that’s right to the above named NATO buffer states arriving weeks if not months after their use as a deterrent has ceased. By formal/informal agreement French, British , Spanish , Portuguese etc TROOPS cannot deploy east in any numbers except for temporary training exercises but we can gift our kit to other forces for them to use . Obviously the generous benefactor will have to provide support in the form of low numbers of personnel to assist while the beneficiaries work up the new kit but then Russian troops ‘holiday’ in the Donblass don’t they!

Mike W
February 22, 2015 10:10 pm

@ John Hartley

Well, that is good news concerning Poland. Thanks for the info.

monkey
monkey
February 22, 2015 10:18 pm

All this on Skoda and CZK the prewar Czechoslovakian industrial companies is my bad. I was sure, many years ago , I had read of cooperation between the Czechoslovakian cartel of these to companies and the German equivalents at an early stage of Germany’s rearming process as they could not openly build their own as they were restricted by the Versailles treaty , hence canvas shrouded motorcycle combinations on manoeuvre ( why train for something your not allowed to have , that’s just torturing yourself ). The Czechoslovakian designs look similar to the panzers but different in all details . As Germany started to re-equip Czechoslovakia started to build border defences but a piece of paper neutered them. On absorbing the Czechoslovakian armies equipment the Czechoslovakian tanks with some rework were used in the invasions of Poland and western Europe and then eastwards again into Russia. 25% of the tanks used in the attack on France were Czechoslovakian.

Gloomy Northern Boy
Gloomy Northern Boy
February 22, 2015 11:18 pm

Since we are now firmly into pre-War politics, worth observing that:

> Many expressing concern about the rise of the Third Reich were widely ridiculed as barmy cranks from the outer edges of reason, who needed locking up rather than being listened too…including the one who had been an active service subaltern, First Sea Lord, a Cabinet Minister, and the CO of a line infantry battalion on the Western Front.

> Post the Great War, Great Britain had some considerable edge in the key armoured warfare doctrines which eventually won WW2; it’s preponents were rubbished and derided by most of their well-trained, well-qualified and expert colleagues…not by Guderian though…

> The BEF had numbers of TAVR units amongst it’s ranks, and I’m not aware of them behaving noticeably worse than the Regulars, as either soldiers or officers…

> …not least because one idea that the army did embed was the Selection Panels for Potential Officers, recognising that, as in the Great War, they would need to turn a lot of middle-class lads into effective officers pdq…and indeed when they had enough of these civilians in uniform thinking outside the box we started to get the job sorted out.

> As an aside, those ideas were picked up by the USA…and then by Harvard Business School…and then re-imported as the Assessment Centre Method of recruitment, much beloved by anyone who did an MBA in the Eighties and Nineties..! :-)

> And finally I think it’s true to say that our RAFVR and RNVR effort in the pre-war years were the greatest ever made, and they must have made some contribution to winning the Battles of Britain and the Atlantic…

>…but perhaps they just made tea and held coats for the small number of brilliantly trained and talented professional staff officers whose astonishing foresight and perspicacity left us so well prepared at the outbreak of War?

> No need, really for idiotic Civilian-heavy stupidities like Bletchley Park or the SOE…and a Government led by that solid establishment Halifax, so well-versed in thinking the right thoughts would clearly have functioned much better than one led by a maverick crackpot constantly setting down in his various writings, ludicrous ideas rightly derided by much sounder men in Whitehall or the War Office.

GNB :-)

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
February 22, 2015 11:39 pm

1939 vs 2015 and not a single attempt at an actual look at comparative forces.
Not surprisingly really :(

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
February 23, 2015 12:24 am

This article has been posted on several notice hoards by duty personnel and allegedly an invite to the author extended to attend a mess dinner and give an after dinner speach.
Not holding out much hope for a reply :)

Hohum
Hohum
February 23, 2015 1:03 am

APATS,

I have been posting force comparisons between Europe and Russia in TD comments sections for months, they have been studiously ignored. I even gave some cursory numbers in this thread.

I agree that comparisons with 1939 are just silly, unfortunately they are helping to prevent a genuinely useful debate about the realities of European and Russian military strength.

whitelancer
whitelancer
February 23, 2015 1:20 am

@GNB
One shouldn’t be so hard on staff officers they have many important jobs to do.
Just as long as they aren’t allowed to command anything every thing is fine.

@APATS
Have you done a force comparison of 1939. I’m sure you will find that the combined forces of France Poland and the UK out matched that of Germany. Didn’t do us any good though did it!
Incidentally the German forces were not battle hardened. The bulk of their infantry relied on Horse power for much of their transport, as they did for the rest of the war. Tactics was the area they were clearly superior, coupled with good commanders indeed some very good commanders and dare I say it good staff work with the necessary will led to their success. Fortunately Strategy was not their strong point so ultimately they failed.

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
February 23, 2015 5:04 am

Hohum half dismissed my view that Russia is paranoid about a two theater threat. Avoiding one is the primary strategy, but being prepared comes in a good second.

Same thinking should be applied to the Europe end of Russia. There are three dimensions to it.

The North, Baltics-Poland, and The South.

Crimea should be seen as locking down The South, thus affording more attention and resource for the rest (that was the avoidance bit).

Even though only two of Putin’s four new arctic bdes have been spotted so far, the answer for the remaining two areas is deployable standing forces, which also enjoy internal lines of communication. The link I posted to an Estonian evaluation of the forces and their uses in the Western JSC should be a good starting point for a forces comparison by APATS.

The real problem (as in Russian planning) is the prospect of Ukrainian NATO membership as that would create a fourth “front” as SO so well illustrated in geographic terms (still to be countered with the same forces total).

What is incredible is that Putin has made this problem imminent with his own actions (calculated to smash Ukraine as a nation state actor, a bit like Georgia, which is now in 3 parts, or Moldova, in 2).

In 1992 a Russian foreign secretary made a joking speech of discussions within Russia, àbout where the OCSE process should be headed. Other participants took the eye off the ball (similar to the early stages in Astan…done…who cares anymore!) and as soon as in 1994 Jeltsin was warning about Europe entering a Cold Peace. And by 2009 the scenario (objectives + methods to achieve it) that in in the atmosphere of 1992 qualified as a joke (or a warning, to stay invested in the process) had been written into Russian law, Georgia tensions having removed the remains of the cordial relationship.

As was mentioned in my discussion with Hohum, this same period (2008-2009) marked the beginning of the serious rebuilding of Russian forces.

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
February 23, 2015 5:30 am

Just to add to the chronology, all practical co-operation came to an end in the below referenced 3 May 2012. cOnfrence. But the point is in the referenced maps which clearly show the areas Russia considers as their forward defence zones:
“In the discussions with NATO on the missile defense system, Russia does not repudiate maps where Baltic countries and Poland are ascribed to their defense area, although Moscow understands that this is not going to happen, says Vaidotas Urbelis, the Policy Director of the / Lithuania/ Ministry of National Defense (MND), delfi.lt wrote on 4 May.

The Officer who participated in the conference on missile defense system, held in Moscow on 3 May, told to BNS that the positions of the representatives of Russia and NATO continue to differ, although, nevertheless, Alliance intends to develop the project of missile defense.

“The Russians have again laid out the same maps with the sectoral division where Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and part of Poland are in their defence sectors. They themselves understand that such things will not happen. This had been clearly expressed to them, they know it well. I cannot explain why (General Nikolaj) Makarov shows the same old map, where Baltic countries are ascribed to the sector defended by Russia”

With nothing to lose, the process having been terminated in practical terms, the same Makarov (Chief of Staff) turned up with his maps a month later showing the Nordic audience how they would defend the airspace of Finland and the northern parts of Sweden and Norway. Needless to say, the audience then responded in less than grateful ways.

Observer
Observer
February 23, 2015 7:03 am

I think we’re really talking about 2 different topics that sometimes mesh into one. The first topic involves the generation of forces, which makes the part about the million man army is possible. The 2nd topic we are on actually involves the sustaining of these forces beyond internal supply lines, which is a lot more iffy. Logistics can be a real killer. In fact, the original armed forces of the USSR were destroyed not by force of arms, but by the simple fact that they could not be sustained and maintained properly and withered away from neglect.

Crimea.. that one was a bit of an oops.. Russia’s need for a port only partly stems from a miitary necessity. The greater need was that of trade and food. The ports in Crimea were supposed to be Russia’s lifeline to the world, they were planning to build a bridge from Russia into Crimea itself for shipments worldwide, but when Ukraine started leaning west, Russia was left at risk of being cut off from the port they were planning to make their lifeline. They grabbed it, sure, but the alternative was to negotiate with a Ukrainian government hostile to them from a position of severe disadvantage. Ukraine would have charged them an arm, a leg and two testicles for use of Crimean ports.

IXION
February 23, 2015 7:27 am

APATS

You keep saying its not 1939.

I keep saying its not 1939 either. I keep saying its 1935-6. If we had acted then 1939 would not had happened as it did.

One of the problems of history is everyone knows what happened next. It is seen through that prism.

The Germany of 33-37 was a broke country with a tiny army that lacked modern equipment and and a huge chip on it shoulders.

I am Not going to bother repeating the parallels they are there and they are massive.

Is Putins Russia more broke and less well equiped than the German Army in 1935?

But we aint gonna agree on the parallels.

But GNB Is right military professionals in the mid 30’s constantly rubished the idea of Germany as a serious threat.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
February 23, 2015 7:42 am

There was no such thing as a military professional in the mid 1930s. Sorry but true, lots that served for generations but the thinking was never challenged and class drove position.
The difference between then and now is night and day, I note neither you nor the GNB challenge my actual military estimate, merely harp on about irrelevant comparisons.

Obsvr
Obsvr
February 23, 2015 8:42 am

A few points:

I visited St Petersburg for a few days a few years back (the Artillery Museum is well worth a visit, their arty cluster munitions look very potent, and the Russians have always ensured they had a very powerful artillery arm) but no sign of anything approximating a ‘fleet’, perhaps it’s at Kaliningrad.

As I under it apart from ‘elite’ units the Russian Army relies on conscripts doing 2 years service, including all training in their units. This is not a recipe for a high level of basic military competence, particularly if these units still rely on conscripts to provide all the NCOs. What we’ve been seeing in recent action is the professionals. What’s less clear is the extent of modern equipment in units, perhaps this is where the increased expenditure is going.

TrT
TrT
February 23, 2015 8:43 am

People are still answering their own fantasy questions

Ida Viru is 75% Russian speaking, Harju 31% and the intervening Laane-Viru only 9.6% but its very lightly populated so it wouldnt take much internal transfer to create three Russian Majority province that secede
Take Ida and you take Estonias energy resources.

Who could argue with a people who dont want to be subjugated by a foreign power? They could even declare independence on the 4th of July just to hammer the point home….

What does EUrope do if the Russian speakers in Estonia start moving to those three regions and a covert company sized SF/FSB unit starts a persistent terror campaign, shooting Estonian police officers and government workers? Hell, just walk in the front door of police HQ with machine guns and rocket launchers and slaughter them.
Are we going to redo Sangin on the streets of Tallinn?
Set up military check points and restrict the freedom of movement of EU citizens? The FUNDAMENTAL freedom of movement that can never be restricted? Based on ethnicity?

Does crime trigger article 5 or its EU equivalent?
Will Spain argue that it doesnt have to mobilise its army and ship them to Estonia because Russia hasnt formerly declared war?
Will Italy unilaterally declare war on Russia because an EU citizen shoots another? That doesnt even make sense…

Midlander
Midlander
February 23, 2015 8:57 am

One way or another the potential for something kicking off in the Baltics is there….. which requires capacity and capability either to deter or to use. Just about everyone is either doubting we can manage that level of capability and capacity, even willingness.(and we are talking NATO article 5!)
Holy treaty obligations… batman.
Meanwhile….down south in Libya, we have a failed state and IS presence on the Mediterranean across from Europe and again questions of capacity, capability and willingness.
For your average baddie (East or South) – Europe appears to invites more “taking the initiative” than deter them.
We just need to look more serious and prepared….so as to be someone not to mess around with?
or maybe its that missing third weetabix….

Observer
Observer
February 23, 2015 9:01 am

I agree, it’s 1935 and we should declare war on Germany with the help of Russia….

Wait, who were we angry at again?

Hohum
Hohum
February 23, 2015 9:36 am

APATS,

“Hohum half dismissed my view that Russia is paranoid about a two theater threat. Avoiding one is the primary strategy, but being prepared comes in a good second.”

I did no such thing and to suggest I did is crass dishonesty.

Observer
Observer
February 23, 2015 9:40 am

Hohum, check the person posting?

Chris
Chris
February 23, 2015 10:10 am

Obs – who are we angry at? We’re angry with our Politicians of course, like we always are. It should be their task to lead and set unambiguous policies both at home and internationally, but now everything has to be done as a consensus with every other conceivable nation the process of setting policy has descended to a pastiche of a group of girls* deciding which restaurant to go to – all options must be discussed and previous experiences relevant or not explored and imagined projections of how good or bad the possible courses of action might be, before deciding to do the same as last time because its nice and safe. So the chances of robust and timely strategic decision-making are slim to nil.

APATS – your assertion that there were no Professional Military Thinkers in the 30s is difficult to accept. There may not have been the breadth of training courses or academic studies for those in post to call upon, but for many (the majority I would think) of those who had reached the strategic thinking posts their experience a decade before in the most bloody of conflicts would remain forefront in their mind. While it would have coloured their thinking, the horrors of being shot at and having their men mown down because they followed their orders would make them sensitive to how nasty changing technologies might be. I don’t know about you but generally I trust people with experience more than I trust people with shiny academic qualifications (see note above about career politicians).

On a point of history, while the world is a different place and the relative merits of one nation’s military against another’s are not direct read-across, people and their decision processes remain entirely the same. That there were many in the 30s that knew the Great War was the war to end all wars and there would never be another conflict on that scale (because everyone would remember the horror and waste and cost of it all) remains fact. That a few championed rearmament and a build-up of the military capability remains fact, as was the derision poured forth from experts of the day. The point is that it is hugely difficult to predict what war would throw itself in our direction next, or when. Its all conjecture and supposition and best estimates. Ultimately, history tells us that the fall into conflict is fast and most times based on the personality, popularity and personal irritation of the leader, only tempered by that leader’s perception of his nation’s military strength. Had Chamberlain’s deal with Hitler been honoured, the involvement of the UK in WW2 might have been very different; conceivably like the US tried at first we may have decided to sit it out. If that had happened, Churchill would have been a character in the footnotes decried as a warmonger and most famous for his alcohol and cigar consumption and the witty remarks he could muster. But the difference between the two men was that Churchill better read the character of Hitler where Chamberlain trusted he would act with honourable diplomacy. That difference has nothing to do with military estimates of relative offensive and defensive capabilities.

*Girls and lads have very different selection strategies. If it was a bunch of lads out on the town the selection process would be “What about a curry at the Taj?” “(sniff) Yeah, alright.”

S O
S O
February 23, 2015 10:39 am

“@ SO – I have to agree with APATS that the text of the Lisbon treaty leaves more room to get out than the text of article 5. ”

I cannot understand why, and I can guarantee you in the German versions of both treaties the Treaty of Lisbon is MUCH more forceful.

Art. 5 lets national opinion decide what to do, whereas art. 42/7 demands a full-out effort, national opinion be damned.

IXION
February 23, 2015 10:45 am

APATS.

You don’t seem to accept that I accept your professional assessment.

so I take it you are totally happy there is no realistic threat to our Nato Allies.

No chance Putin will try the same tactics that are working so well in Ukraine and the use of force by surrogates in Europe to redraw state boundaries and the gaining of the Russian navy of bases in the Baltic.

btw Are you saying modern British Staff officers never make mistakes ??

Nothing to see here move on?

Gloomy Northern Boy
Gloomy Northern Boy
February 23, 2015 10:46 am

@apats – I have said nothing at all about the military aspects of the situation because my interest (as always) is in the failures of policy that have occasioned it. And I think it would come as a surprise to the Regular Soldiers of the 1930’s that they were not “Professional” – not least because that generation had by 1918 created the only Army on the Western Front capable of offensive action, and largely invented the prototype of the combined arms warfare that was waged with such terrible effect just a few years later…as well as disproving any bald class warfare analysis of their culture by getting organised to recruit large numbers of Officers without their own country estates during the Great War, and getting organised to do the same again as and when required.

However some of them were complacent about the German threat, and they did seem to be subject to a sort of group-think about military doctrine which resulted in their dismissing anyone who didn’t agree with them as being stupid and talking rubbish…which group unfortunately included a number of exponents of styles of armoured warfare which were instead taken up with some useful effect by Heinz Guderian.

But of course that could never happen now, because military thinkers are taught to take a broad view and look carefully at the merits of all discussion, rather than dismissing as rubbish anything they don’t readily agree with… :-)

GNB

Observer
Observer
February 23, 2015 11:39 am

IXION, I’d say not likely. Putin, for all his faults, had reasons for taking the actions he did, which had nothing to do with “conquering the world”. He was trying to carve out a security zone for Russia, which went moderately well. He secured an access port to the rest of the world by capturing the Crimean ports, he made Ukraine and the world focus their attention on Ukraine, Poland and points West instead of on Russia itself. Of course, it has yet to be seen if his maneuvers are going to have the long term effects he hopes, and the sanctions were the price he paid for playing the game, so its a bit hard to tell if he got out ahead or played a losing hand. Or even if he played a losing hand as best as he could.

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
February 23, 2015 12:06 pm

there is this puzzle of why so many countries — and Putin’s Russia now takes the first prize from Bush’s America — no longer feel a compunction about attacking even remote threats to their security.
– working multilateral frameworks being pushed aside without much regard för tomorrow

But as I said abit further up, Crimea might have been a snatch, but Møre strategically Donbas will prove a Pyrrhic victory.

Nick
Nick
February 23, 2015 12:42 pm

@Observer

I think its difficult to fully appreciate what Putin’s aims were/are as they seem extremely silly to us. The obvious ones seem to be:

1. Securing the Crimea naval port. Its the only warm water port that Russia has and whilst there was a long term agreement with Ukraine to rent the port (in return for a gas discount), I suppose it is reasonable to assume that there would be a enhanced risk of loosing this in EU-facing Ukraine.

2. Create a Frozen conflict in Ukraine itself. I have rad that neither NATO nor EU can permit a country to join without territorial integrality. On paper then the separatists have blocked future membership. Personally NATO membership was unlikely (due to the problematic effect on Russia) and EU membership would be at least 10 years in the future (optimistic, but I suppose the East European experience would suggest this would be possible with EU will)

3. Use the frozen conflict to influence Kyiv government

4. Enhance Russian standing on the global stage

5. Maintain his position re Russian public opinion (strangely the government – and oligarchs – gets the blame more than he does for the bad stuff that happens).

I’m not sure that the Donbass mess was ever supposed to get as bad as it has. Remember Russian support on the ground only got to a high level when Kyiv forces started kicking separatist ass over the Summer, when they got their act together. Its Russian heavy weapons, training and on the ground support which have made the real difference to the position since then.

My guess was that Putin expected a rather mild western response, which was what actually happened until the Donbass fighting got very hot over the summer and the Malaysian airline was shot down. He is now in something of a corner as he can’t back down (Russian public opinion and his standing).

The sanctions have dried up western financing of Russia (mostly oil companies) and will significantly reduce the capacity of Russia to grow oil production in the future (lot of Russian shale oil potential, the newer enhanced recovery techniques and Artic offshore oil) but not affected the current position.

The Oil price drop has probably halved Russian government income for 2015 if it stays where it is today. Since western debt is not available, then Chinese money or government cuts will need to happen. Russian oil companies are publically not having redundancy programmes, but I hear tales of significant salary reductions being enforced (and not just in the Oil sector).

btw I hear that western food is still being imported into Russia but is being relabeled as Belarus or other places origin (obviously at a price hike). Russian domestic oil prices have also significantly increased (the rouble price is indexed to USD). Domestic Energy and Petrol costs are significantly higher from January onwards.

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
February 23, 2015 1:30 pm

Nick,

A good summary.

If anyone wants to read what Putin thinks,here is the man who has written it down.

http://4pt.su/en/content/eurasian-mission-introduction-neo-eurasianism

Using primary sources might be important in determining whether he is a Putler, or just acting on feeling insecure (which actions are then magnified by his personality traits that require absolute loyalty , which he showed on his way up, and also being in total control… Might suit the folks within Russian borders as there is/ has been loadsa money to go with it. But not all the immediate neighbours!)

Nick
Nick
February 23, 2015 1:54 pm

Thanks for the link. I might see if I can get that on kindle to read. I might actually agree with the summary, if it wasn’t that it seems to me that the neo-Eurasian view point is just a cover whereby a semi-dictator (Putin) gets to justify his view on why he should be allowed to do his version of what he claims the Atlanticists are doing (which he doesn’t like).