Ever heard of the Suwalki Gap?

I doubt that you have – but many people in the Baltic States and in the Russian military are well aware that this is a short stretch of land, a mere 50 miles (100 kms), which is the only connection between the Baltic States and the rest of the European Union. On one side is Lithuania and on the other side is Poland, but to the west is the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad and to the east is Russia’s close ally, Belarus.

Such is the sensitivity about this corner of Europe that, when Russian military personnel take the military train from Kaliningrad to Moscow, a Lithuanian air force helicopter hovers overhead to ensure that no one illegally hops off en route.

The three Baltic states and Poland are all members of NATO and the Suwalki Gap is a recognised NATO vulnerability. Concern has been heightened since the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

As today’s article in the “Guardian” newspaper explains:

“The war in Ukraine has led the alliance to further bolster its presence in the region, with multinational battalions to be dispatched to Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary and Slovakia. The military presence in Lithuania has been increased from approximately 1,200 to roughly 1,600 soldiers and equipped with new hardware, such as the German army’s light and mobile Ozelot anti-aircraft system, which can be used to protect airports from aerial assaults.

But the function of these military units remains that of a “tripwire”: a reminder to hardliners in the Kremlin that invading what they may see as renegade breakaway nations of a former Russian empire would automatically trigger a military conflict with other western European states. But in their current state, there is little doubt the enhanced forward presence units would sooner or later be overrun.”

Want to know more about how the Russians could storm the Suwalki Gap and how NATO might defend it? See here.


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