Forward defense for frontline states: Exploit Russia’s internal vulnerabilities
In the face of unprovoked danger from Moscow, NATO’s front-line states should exploit Russia’s internal weaknesses to deter external aggression.
Visiting Lithuania last week as a guest of the foreign ministry, I urged the country’s leaders and its growing online community to be assertive in the face of Russian subversion of their small country.
Moscow has begun a propaganda campaign to partition Lithuania the way it partitioned Ukraine, and to de-legitimize the cultural and political existence of the Baltic republic. Lithuania has a strong president and foreign minister, and a savvy special operations force – as well as a brave national spirit.
In a public interview with Delfi, I urged Lithuania not to wait to be undermined and possibly attacked, but to turn the tables on their once and future aggressor. The interview was published in the Lithuanian language, but here is the gist:
- The best defense is a well-planned and unconventional offense.
- Lithuania should use its seat on the United Nations Security Council to introduce a flow of positive but provocative resolutions that Moscow will certainly veto. The object should be to raise embarrassing international security questions in order to provoke the Kremlin into vetoing, for the purpose of drawing attention to key issues that larger powers would rather avoid.
- One of those issues is to resolve the legal status of the Russian-occupied territory known by the Stalinist name “Kaliningrad.” That area, captured from the Germans during World War II, was never legally resolved by the Big Four after 1945. Lithuania borders “Kaliningrad” and is well-suited to raise the issue – as well as lead the way to calling it something else that doesn’t pay homage to Mikhail Kalinin, one of Stalin’s top henchmen.
- Lithuania should provide a voice for Russian regional leaders outside Moscow, and a means for them to assert domestic political powers that the Kremlin has usurped.
- Highlighting the degree to which Moscow’s centralization is impoverishing the rest of Russia – economically, socially, ecologically and more – is an important means to increase internal tension on Putin and the chekist kleptocracy ruling the country.
- Lithuania should provide international voices for national and cultural autonomy movements among the Russian Federation’s ethnic minorities – especially the Crimean Tatars, the Finnish Karelians, and the Buryats, Yakuts and others in Central Asia and the Far East.
- Providing voices for relatively isolated autonomy movements would enable those movements to join forces and seek international recognition. It would also provide an opportunity, held in reserve, to promote full-scale secessionist movements across the Russian Federation should the Kremlin not cease its aggression against neutral countries and NATO members.
Link to text of interview (in Lithuanian): http://www.delfi.lt/news/daily/lithuania/lietuva-turetu-tiek-erzinti-rusija-kad-ji-pradetu-gintis.d?id=67940476