Baltic countries stock up on anti-tank weapons to repel Russian invasion
The Baltic states of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia have been studying the 2008 Russia-Georgia war, writes Robert Beckhusen for Medium, and they think they've learned an important lessonI think this strategy make sense. The way Russians use tanks they rarely have the infantry to protect them so they are vulnerable to a light attack with anti tank weapons. The Russians don't have the capability of the Israelis to repel rocket attacks. This is a cost effective way to deal with the Russian threat.
The way to stop Russian tanks isn't with other tanks, he says, it's with anti-tank missiles. Lots of them.
When it faced off against Russia, Georgia didn't have this capability - and it proved costly. Beckhuson quotes Frederic Labarre, who wrote a history of one of the key battles in the Russia-Georgia conflict for Small Wars Journal.
"On the one hand, it is clear that cool-headed infantry is more than a match for armour, especially in an urban environment," Labarre says. "This lesson had been put to the test many times and many years before, by many countries. One wonders therefore why it wasn't applied by the Georgians."
The Baltic states, according to Beckhusen, aren't interested in repeating these strategic errors.
Over the past two years, they have been buying anti-tank weapons in large numbers, he reports. Estonia, for instance, spent $55m [£34m] early this month for 120 US launchers, 250 missiles and assorted spare parts. Last year the three Baltic states combined to spend $63m on Swedish rocket systems.
"There's one overriding reason for why the Baltic states want to destroy armour," Beckhusen writes. "It's because they fear Russian tanks. Many officials in these countries are also worried Nato might not come to the rescue were Russian troops were to invade."
According to Richard Milne and Neil Buckley in the Financial Times, the Baltic nations remember half a century of occupation at the hands of the Soviets and are particularly sensitive to prospects of a more belligerent Russia under Vladimir Putin, even though the nations have Nato security guarantees.