Deterrence Dilemma in Latvia and Estonia: Finding the Balance between External Military Solidarity and Territorial Defence

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Abstract

While potential threats from Russia and NATO collective defence commitments are similar for Latvia and Estonia, both countries have adopted different approaches in the balancing exercise between territorial defence and military solidarity. Notwithstanding their differences, both are by their nature fully non-aggressive – without room for pre-emptive initiatives, extra territoriality or asymmetrical tools. Given that in a case of a hypothetical large-scale conventional attack both countries would almost entirely have to rest on the allies, external military solidarity is essential. Until the Ukraine crisis, both offered more military solidarity towards their NATO allies than the latter offered to them. As the result of the Ukrainian crisis, allies became more military-solidary with the Baltic nations, especially having established the Enhanced Forward Presence, while Estonian and especially Latvian contributions to international missions and operations dropped. Therefore, it is suggested that both countries increase their efforts to the allied international endeavours.

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A publication of the Baltic Defence College

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