Collection: Anti-Access/Area Denial in the Baltic Sea Region

Research Articles

NATO’s Response to Russian A2/AD in the Baltic States: Going Beyond Conventional?



Anti-access/area denial (A2/AD) has turned very recently into a buzzword to define Russian strategy to limit, disrupt or even interdict NATO forces to reinforce the Baltic states in the case of an escalation between the alliance and Russia. This article puts in context how these discussions have re-emerged since 2014 and how Russia has developed a comprehensive defense system that effectively give the impression of impenetrable ‘bubbles’. Yet, NATO has to cope with a not-so-new threat, being caught between two extremes: on the one hand, being serious and credible – maintaining its superior technological military edge and show-casing it by deploying troops and materials in contested areas, and on the other hand, being a defensive alliance, not giving any credit to the Russians by creating a dangerous spiral. This paper argues that it is time to develop a truly comprehensive counter-A2AD strategy, which would take several aspects: maintaining and expanding the reassurance measures (in the air, on the seas and on the ground), improve our doctrines to think big again (by recreating divisions and corps as maneuver units) and consider the need to be seen as a credible deterrent. These military aspects would be complemented by political and diplomatic considerations to ensure possible retaliatory measures, if Russia would further destabilize its neighborhood through an aggressive policy. What is at stake is NATO’s being not just a resilient and adaptive organization facing todays’s complex challenges, but its core ability to maintain, 70 years after its birth, the very notion of collective defense in which all the allies trust.


NATOA2/ADRussiaBalticsconventional warfareKaliningrad
  • Year: 2019
  • Volume: 2 Issue: 1
  • Page/Article: 74–83
  • DOI: 10.31374/sjms.18
  • Submitted on 6 Dec 2018
  • Accepted on 29 Jan 2019
  • Published on 21 Aug 2019
  • Peer Reviewed