NATO ‘won’t be able to’ defend Finland and Baltics if Russia beats Ukraine

NATO countries would be left vulnerable to Russian attack if Vladimir Putin’s troops were to emerge victorious in Ukraine, a leading think tank has warned.

Ukraine is continuing to fight the Russians in the east of the country, but concern has mounted due to Kyiv’s underwhelming counteroffensive earlier this year.

President Volodymyr Zelensky is urging the West to keep providing support for Ukraine, but US President Joe Biden is struggling to get further funds through the legislature in Washington.

Republicans have thwarted further funding for Ukraine as they look to secure concessions on immigration policy.

US think tank the Institute for the Study of War (ISW) has warned that a “Russian conquest of all of Ukraine is by no means impossible if the United States cuts off all military assistance and Europe follows suit.”

The think tanks also warn that, if Russia secures complete victory in Ukraine, NATO countries would be vulnerable to attacks that NATO won’t be able to stop with the current number of troops in Europe.

The ISW says Russia could launch a “short-notice mechanized offensive against one or several NATO states with at least 8 divisions (21 mechanized or tank regiments and brigades and three airborne regiments).”

The think tank added: “They could make such an attack and still threaten the Baltic States and Finland with the forces already present there and reinforcements they have announced they intend to station along the Finnish borders.

“Russian ground forces would be covered by a dense air defense network of S-300, S-400, and S-500 long-range anti-air and anti-missile systems with overlapping coverage of the entire front.

“NATO would be unable to defend against such an attack with the forces currently in Europe.

“The United States would need to move large numbers of American soldiers to the entire eastern NATO border from the Baltic to the Black Sea to deter Russian adventurism and be prepared to defeat a Russian attack.”

The ISW also finds in its report that a Russian victory would allow Moscow’s economy to recover from the sanctions imposed by the West since the start of the war.

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Russian victory would also “allow Russia to pose a major conventional military threat to NATO for the first time since the 1990s in a timeframe set to a considerable extent by how much the Kremlin invests in its military”, the think tank adds.

A Ukrainian defeat could also have repercussions in Asia, as the ISW warns the US would have to “make a terrible choice between keeping enough in Asia to defend Taiwan and its other Asian allies and deterring or defeating a Russian attack on NATO.”

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