The shadow of threat which is appearing from the Russian side, has defined the mood of NATO leaders -member states which gathered in Warsaw on the next summit. The meeting which took place on July 8-9 was not such crucial as the Wales' summit in September, 2014 during which the North Atlantic alliance returned to a role of the defense block, ready to military operations on the European theater, and not just beyond its limits.
The current summit only confirmed the refusal of Lisbon-2010 declarations at the time when Russia was still being a friend and a potential partner. In the final statement of the Warsaw meeting Russia is called "a source of regional instability". Having laid rhetoric aside, we will note that NATO member states are extremely concerned about a question of how to stabilize the relations with Russia and its Armed Forces.
Since 2015 the leaders of the block returned to a use of the word "control" - the key idea of the old times. At first the task was to calm the Baltic allies, to increase visible presence and to adjust the process of trainings and training. But when the military research centers started to dig deeper and the analysts plunged into the Baltic perspective, it became clearer that inside NATO block not everything is going well and smooth. Thanks to the reform and the program of rearmament begun in 2011, the Russian army became the operating tool of the State policy again. And even with all the restrictions and separate failures, the reality with which NATO is dealing now, consists of the fact that the size and the arrangement of the Russian military units do present a real problem to the defense of the Baltic States - to put it mildly, it is a difficult situation.
The Russian forces are deployed in Kaliningrad and around St. Petersburg, so the Baltic states are obviously "in a boiler". To the South from them there is a Russian ally - Belarus, and to the North - the Baltic Sea, which makes it possible to organize blockade of any coastal States. During one year already, the Western military specialists are obsessed with the perspective of "the fact becoming reality " in the Baltic region, assuming NATO's defeat by the Russian forces within 36-60 hours. Nothing indicates that Russia would like to intrude in the Baltic region; there is no sense in occupying three countries to undermine confidence to the NATO alliance. But these reasons stand behind the important change of rhetoric from "providing guarantees" to "controlling".
Unfortunately, such concerns are typical for all the spheres of the Russian analytics in the West, which rushes from one not finished thinking theory to another. In 2014 and 2015 in West the panic expectation is reigning, connected to Russia's attempts to cut through an overland corridor to the Crimea. Today in the same way the West is waiting for the attempts to occupy overland "bridge" to Kaliningrad. The Western specialists are looking for the conceptual approaches to a problem capable to become the organizing analytical principle. One of the main principles became the notion of "hybrid war", and now the need of "control" in Baltic region.
Not only American and European militaries are burdened by such problems. Unreasonable fears and hyper sensibility to the threats characterize the views of the Russian military experts on the American military opportunities. The false idols of the Russian military analysis are represented by the allegedly imposed by USA "color revolutions" happening in other countries and almost magic properties of the American arms of distant radius of action.
In real life, Russia is relocating the forces of continuous basing closer to the Ukrainian borders, obviously preparing for escalation in that region without paying special attention to Baltic one. The recent history with the dismissal of all management of the Baltic Fleet certificates not only to a low combat readiness of these units, but also testifies to the fact that Moscow is ready to use the public steps know to more important naval divisions that the management is ready to resolute actions.
Nevertheless, these days the safety of the Baltic states really represents a problem for NATO. If it is about control of Russia, then the NATO leaders are forced to choose between senseless and reckless actions. The famous decision on four battalions' placement in the Baltic States and Poland - it is rather about providing guarantees, than about control. This is the force which does not have independent military value. The promised American armored brigade which has to arrive the next year will also be separated into uncountable fragments and distributed to the European allies for the purpose of ensuring confidence and guarantees. NATO has switched to the language of control, but actually the block cannot effectively protect the territory of the Baltic region. Therefore, at the past summit much was told about control, but little has been made.
This region will always remain extremely problematic when speaking about defense providing. It was true also before recent Russian reforms. The only change consists in the fact that today - after 25 years after the end of cold war - the high-ranking western militaries who were engaged in forwarding and anti-terrorist operations are extremely badly familiar with the European theater and with the Russian armed forces. There were always Russian troops located in Kaliningrad, long ago there were there both antiaircraft and rocket forces which radius of action made the strengthening of the Baltic region's defense almost senseless. The NATO alliance which has been extending for 20 years mostly as the political union, should rethink itself as defense alliance.
Despite the fears of the Baltic States, it is possible to say that NATO successfully coped all these years with policy of the control of Russia. Russia has on its file the whole series of the invasions directed to preventing the other countries' entering into the alliance, so, Russia trusts the USA obligations under the contract. Now it is even more important that, as well as throughout all cold war, America manages to constrain the Russian aggression by the threat of conventional countermeasures.
In other words, the Russia's possibilities to successfully conduct conventional military operations with the American forces are limited. The threat of escalation on this direction strongly outweighs any perspectives of easy military victories in the Baltic region. Moscow is watching with a keen interest political and military vanity around "the control" subject. The more the Alliance is captured by the fears concerning the potential war with Russia, the more it is directed to holding defense situation and, consequently, it is more exposed to bigger control from the part of Russia.