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Subject: Lithuanian/Polish/Ukrainian Increased Cooperation
singularity    11/19/2009 12:37:06 PM
Lithuania, Poland and Ukraine are forming are forming a three way international peacekeeping brigade called LITPOLUKRBRIG. According to the Telegraph (UK newspaper), the strength may range from 2,000-5,000 soldiers. (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/expat/6589547/Lithuania-Poland-and-Ukraine-create-a-joint-military-brigade.html). According to RIA Novosti (Russian newspaper), this is the second combined battalion between Poland and Ukraine and the paper claims other countries can apparently join the agreement. It appears that Poland and Lithuania are attempting to integrate Ukraine further into NATO and Europe, despite (and perhaps because of) the hesitation by France,Germany and some others. I think further integration/alliances between Ukraine, Poland and the other Central and Eastern European countries offers increased protection against Russian influence or even attack. This got me thinking about this scenario: What would occur if Russia and Ukraine have another spat over gas deliveries and Ukraine attempts to kick out the Russian fleet from Crimea? If this escalated to an armed conflict (non-nuclear), and Poland, Lithuania (and perhaps Czech Republic, Slovakia, Estonia and Latvia) came to the aid of Ukraine against Russia (which would probably have the support of Belarus), what would their odds be? I am assuming the other NATO members such as US, France, Germany do not interfere because they are either tied down or do not want to protect countries freedoms because of the chance of losing Russian "business". How long could these countries last? Could they take Kalingrad and deny the Russians a foothold? How long would it take for these countries to develop nukes (Ukraine had some stationed on its land before it disarmed).
 
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singularity       11/19/2009 3:33:37 PM
I feel that despite the overwhelming numerical superiority and large ethnic minorities in some of these countries, the Russian forces would face a tough defense. All of these countries know what life is like under Russian rule (under the Soviets) and want nothing to do with it. I feel nuclear weapons (at least at the beginning of the war) would be out of the question because this could risk pushing the Western powers to war because of fallout and then Russia would be in serious trouble. Unless the Russian/Belarussian forces can destroy the opposing armies quickly, they would come under strong international pressure to stop and would probably face strong guerilla resistance in any significant area of land they captured. The resisting Central/Eastern European (CEE) countries would also probably try to foment insurgent activity in Chechnya and quite possibly try to persuade Georgia to start some trouble in Abkahzia/South Ossetia (although I'm not sure how eager they would want to be after last year's bloodshed) which would open up several fronts.
 
1. In terms of naval engagement the CEE countries do not have much of a chance and would probably have to resort to minelaying the Baltic before their ships are destroyed.
 
2. Air combat will favor the Russians in most areas due to large numerical superiority, however Polish F-16's and Mig-29's may have the edge in some pockets due to better pilot training/equipment and may be able to establish local air superiority (at least until the numbers start working against them or Su-35 comes online). Ukraine has some Mig-29's but more importantly has air defense force elements which could take a toll on older Russian bombers and attack planes, as seen in the Georgian conflict.
 
3. Ground combat will be slightly less lopsided due to significant deterioration of Russian and Belarussian equipment and training since the collapse of the Soviet Union. CEE infantry would be outnumbered by about 2.5-3 to 1, at least until soldiers are drafted and trained which will probably lower the ratio to under 2 to 1. Counting against the current troop numbers for Russia, Belarus and Ukraine are conscription, while Poland,Lithuania and most of the other CEE countries have moved to professional armies with any remaining conscripts in reserve.
 
Russian forces also have a large advantage in tank numbers although a significant amount are outdated or not functional (pre T-90 and T-80). The Polish PT-91 is probably equal to and Polish Leopard 2 may have an edge over the T-90 while the Ukrainian T-84 Oplot is probably about equal to the T-90 and better than the T-80 which it is an upgrade from).
 
 I feel if the CEE forces can hold out for longer than a year, then they stand a good chance of developing enough nuclear weapons to enforce a ceasefire. I don't think the Russian supply lines will be able to handle the amount of military needed to overwhelm the defensive positions (and research areas developing nukes) especially when old equipment begins falling apart.
 
P.S: The link for the RIA article was:
http://en.rian.ru/analysis/20091118/156890112.html
 
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Godofgamblers    zwyciestwo albo smierc   11/19/2009 9:28:39 PM

Good post. It is an interesting development although I am yet to be convinced that Poland regards Ukraine as anything more than a buffer zone.

Over the centuries Poland has used Ukraine to its own ends and although Ukrainians view Poles slightly more favorably than Russians, their trust level is not that high for good, historical reasons. The Polish Lithuanian Union formalized by the Union of Lublin created an Empire that was Polish-centric. There are many academic articles to this effect. That the Lithuanians or Ukrainians would enter into any sort of meaningful union with the Poles again is doubtful.

Even if the three countries did pool their war capabilities, it would not be anything approaching a deterrant. The various scenarios you set out, though imaginative, would not stand a snowball's chance in heck of dulling the spearhead of a Russian attack.

The Poles would require more than a few 'Cud nad Wisla' to fight the Russians to a stalemate. Any chance of Polish survival depends on Western help. The Ukrainian and Lith deals would simply be buffers, spoilers, while Poalnd awaited help from the West. Such is a pragamatic strategy. And I think the Ukis and Liths realize the Realpolitik of the Poles, that the Polsih Master Plan is for them to serve as fodder to give the Poles more time to mobilize.

It may seem like a good idea on paper to partner with the Ukis and fight the Russians in the Ukraine to provide strategic depth. However, the Poles lack the capacity for such a large scale battle. Their strategy is purely defensive and for good reason, given the odds.
 
Poland will continue to strengthen bonds with the West, as it has always done, and the Lithuanians and the Ukrainians are left hanging in the breeze....
 
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smitty237       11/20/2009 12:53:35 AM
The only thing I would add to GoG's excellent post is that if war broke out in Eastern Europe the Poles/Ukranian/Baltic States would have to rely upon an infusion of Western influence among the Russian people in order to keep the Russians at bay.  Specifically, they would have to count on the fact that a large number of Russian military casualties could cause such an outcry amongst the Russian population that the Russian government would either be forced to the negotiation tables or withdrawn completely.  The Poles and Ukranians don't stand a chance of beating the Russians in sustained combat, but with the right weaponry, tactics, and elan, perhaps they could inflict enough Russian casualties to ferment Russian public outcry, and perhaps even buy them time until the West intervenes.  The Russian people have long been conditioned to accept enormous losses in war, but this is not 1814, 1918, 1943, or even 1985.  In this age of instant information it would be difficult to conceal war casualties from the Russian people, and as we well know in the West that information heavily influences public policy.  It may be a long shot, but perhaps the best defense the Poles have is to inflict as many Russian casualties as quickly as possible and let the media do the rest.   
 
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Godofgamblers       11/20/2009 1:46:44 AM
Yeah, smitty, i think if the Russians were to make a collective decision to wipe Poland off the map, no one could stop them. It's sort of a Pakistan vs India scenario. if India really wanted to eliminate Pakistan, ther's nothing anyone could do to stop them, due to sheer numbers and industrial output.
 
The much maligned Russians are actually the cultural leaders of the Slavic world. Though the Slavs number around 300 to 400 million, the Slavs have never really made their presence felt in Europe because they are divided into various countries, squabbling amongst themselves, much like the Arabs. Poland and Russia are the only two to have reached empire status (Russia twice actualy). The Russian eastward expansion has made it akin to Jupiter among the planets. Poland's shortlived empire in 1648 pales in comparison. And then there's also Kievan Rus.... also principally a Russian/Ukrainian empire.
 
Because of the success of the Russians, their advanced culture, high quality of human resources and numbers, no Slavic union can ever take place, as it would be so thoroughly dominated by the Russians. As a result, the Slavs will remain "Balkanized" and forging various alliances amongst themselves to maintain their existence, a bit like a hypertrophic game of RISK.
 
I think a better bet is the Baltic states uniting.... i don't know too much about them.... But i think there would be a better chance of the Balts making a menaingful alliance than the various Slavic countries against the Russkis.
 
 
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Hugo       11/20/2009 7:20:13 AM
GoG, I don't think there is such a thing as the "Slavic world" and thus there cannot be a cultural leader, Russian or otherwise.  The Slavic peoples do not share a lot in common culturally.  The Western Slavs, largely Catholic, have very little culturally, or historically, in common with the Russians.   Poles, Czechs, Slovenes etc have been heavily influenced by the West, the enlightenment and German-Austrian culture, Russia has been influenced by the East.  The Southern Slavs are yet another story.  Russia is a leader in the Orthodox world perhaps but Slavic unity has always been a fantasy.
 
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singularity    Sto lat!   11/20/2009 9:54:10 AM
Goofgamblers- You make several good points about using Ukraine as a buffer state. In a similar way, Germany is using Poland as a buffer state and this decreases any urgency they feel with respect to letting Ukraine in, even at the expense of promoting development and security for the other countries in the region. I think you are off on Poland viewing Lithuania simply as a buffer state. It seems there is a current fad for some historians to suggest that Lithuania was suggested to domination by the Poles (to some extent this may have some truth) which is in response to previous historians assertions that the Poles and Liths had more of a union. Debates on many historical issues usually swing back and forth, but I think most Poles think of the Lithuanians as their brothers and would probably step up to their defense. I don't know much about Estonia and Latvia but I know they have larger Russian minorities and would probably have civil war on some scale in an attack.
 
Smitty237- You make a good point about casualties (which may even be bigger if the countries are able to support terrorist attacks in Chechnya). However, how controlled is the Russian media under Putin/Medvedev? Do they have enough leeway to report on large amounts of casualties?
 
Hugo- I think you are spot on about the lack of a  "uniform Slavic culture". Peoples such as the Polish, Czechs, Slovenians are more accurately described as Central rather than Eastern Europeans, despite Russian efforts.
 
I still have a few questions questions about any possible defense:
1. Would it be worth it to try and take Kalingrad or try any offensive into Belarus?
2. Where would defensive lines be (is this too primitive of a concept for modern warfare?) and how long could they hold before either Western aid arrives, Russian public opinion turns or nukes are developed?
3. What are the cyberwarfare and intelligence capacities of these countries in comparison to Russia and Belarus?
4. Is the balance of power in the region changing in the next 10-20 years?
 
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gf0012-aust       11/20/2009 3:52:01 PM

Of course Germany sees Poland and the Baltic states as a buffer, but does that mean were not going to defend our Allies ? 

the fact that the russians have started to rewrite WW2 history again should be concern for everyone.  You'd be aware that they recently started saying that it was the Poles who triggered the conflict with Russia in WW2 - aka the Russians were aggrieved innocents.

when that kind of rubbish coming from countries is getting offered as a "truth" then all should be concerned.  its no wonder that the other baltics and central europeans want nothing to do with them and seek to be in an alternative community.

the sooner the russians get over their inferiority complex and start looking at their neighbours with respect, then the sooner that everyone else will relax.




 
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Godofgamblers       11/20/2009 9:23:11 PM

GoG, I don't think there is such a thing as the "Slavic world" and thus there cannot be a cultural leader, Russian or otherwise.  The Slavic peoples do not share a lot in common culturally.  The Western Slavs, largely Catholic, have very little culturally, or historically, in common with the Russians.   Poles, Czechs, Slovenes etc have been heavily influenced by the West, the enlightenment and German-Austrian culture, Russia has been influenced by the East.  The Southern Slavs are yet another story.  Russia is a leader in the Orthodox world perhaps but Slavic unity has always been a fantasy.

Yes, it is too late for any unity, i agree. Let me draw upon your knowledge Hugo and ask you, why is it that the German nations in Europe all speak the same language ---despite Obama's efforts to the contrary hehe--- while the Slavs have dispersed and all speak different languages, with different scripts too. We know that at one time the Slavs spoke one language. I have very little knowledge of early history: are the Slavs an older people and thus their languages evolved more? Or is it geographical, the Germans being for the most part hemmed in  in Central Europe (with the exception of the Prussians of course) while the Slavs fanned out to the south and east, the cultural isolation leading to dialects forming and finally distinct languages?
thx
 
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YelliChink       11/20/2009 9:37:39 PM
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Nevertheless, I don't see how the "cooperation" will last long. Ukraine will be on Russian side after January election.  That's probably better for both me and them. I had enough of Russian leadership calling for "Western aggression." Poles and Lithuanian leadership need to understand that tail don't wag the head, and they aren't going to get any safer by dragging Ukraine to their side.

After all, they've lost Belarus and Ukraine to Russia in 17, 18 and 20th centuries.
 
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Godofgamblers       11/20/2009 9:41:37 PM

Goofgamblers- You make several good points about using Ukraine as a buffer state. In a similar way, Germany is using Poland as a buffer state and this decreases any urgency they feel with respect to letting Ukraine in, even at the expense of promoting development and security for the other countries in the region. I think you are off on Poland viewing Lithuania simply as a buffer state. It seems there is a current fad for some historians to suggest that Lithuania was suggested to domination by the Poles (to some extent this may have some truth) which is in response to previous historians assertions that the Poles and Liths had more of a union. Debates on many historical issues usually swing back and forth, but I think most Poles think of the Lithuanians as their brothers and would probably step up to their defense. I don't know much about Estonia and Latvia but I know they have larger Russian minorities and would probably have civil war on some scale in an attack.


 

Smitty237- You make a good point about casualties (which may even be bigger if the countries are able to support terrorist attacks in Chechnya). However, how controlled is the Russian media under Putin/Medvedev? Do they have enough leeway to report on large amounts of casualties?


 

Hugo- I think you are spot on about the lack of a  "uniform Slavic culture". Peoples such as the Polish, Czechs, Slovenians are more accurately described as Central rather than Eastern Europeans, despite Russian efforts.


 

I still have a few questions questions about any possible defense:

1. Would it be worth it to try and take Kalingrad or try any offensive into Belarus?

2. Where would defensive lines be (is this too primitive of a concept for modern warfare?) and how long could they hold before either Western aid arrives, Russian public opinion turns or nukes are developed?


3. What are the cyberwarfare and intelligence capacities of these countries in comparison to Russia and Belarus?


4. Is the balance of power in the region changing in the next 10-20 years?



wow, this is a tall order. I'm afraid these sorts of questions are well beyond my ken.
 
what i can say about battle lines would be that the Poles would be best to construct defenses along their eastern waterways. Many point to the fact that Poland has no natural defenses, but it has numerous waterways. If you consider the geography of Poland, you will note the large number of rivers running parallel to the Eastern border. I can envisage a defense whereby the Poles form units which are independent, having limited or no supply lines, sort of like the Russian "hedgehog" defence in WW2. They could be provisioned by air or thru stores that are kept in hidden depots in their area of operation. Each hedgehog would straddle a major waterway, engaging/disengaging independently. This sort of dual/duel warfare where there is no attack or retreat, simply independent hedgehogs engaging and disengaging independently is possible, i believe, due to the possibility of being in contact with realtime info with all other units. The enemy thus could never 'outflank" or "breakthrough" the Polish positions, as there would be no position. The Russians would be allowed to advance as they wished, but the hedgehogs would remain intact and continue to engage/disengage at will.
 
This would mean giving up on defending borders and population centers. I realize this is a major sacrifice. But it is a necessity if the army wishes to survive and fight on and let's face it, holding the border or protecting a given city would be a pipe dream. Defending borders and cities was in fact the major error of the 1939 Battle of Poland. It allowed the Germans to break through Polish lines and encircle them.
 
Another advantage of this kind of defense is that the Poles would be fighting across waterways. This would give them the impetus to perfect fighting in these sorts of conditions, fjording rivers, engaging and disengaging across waters, operating using SEAL like tactics. Once they adapted to fighting in this environment, it would give them a major advantage since the Russians would not have the same ability. 
 
This style of fighting has never been attempted, but i believe modern technology now makes it possible. 
 
The Poles would center their defense on the Narew, Wieprz and Wisla rivers. This style o
 
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