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Research Report

ARMING FOR DETERRENCE: How Poland and NATO Should Counter a Resurgent Russia

Richard Shirreff
Maciej Olex-Szczytowski
Copyright Date: Jul. 1, 2016
Published by: Atlantic Council
Pages: 25
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Table of Contents

  1. (pp. 1-1)

    The Warsaw Summit is a watershed moment for the NATO Alliance. The twenty-eight member states have a unique opportunity to demonstrate NATO’s enduring relevance and ability to defend Europe and the transatlantic area by laying down a marker to build strong and effective conventional and nuclear deterrence. Poland, in particular, should play an important role in this.

    This report examines the threat posed by a resurgent Russia before considering NATO’s strategy and posture, focusing particularly on its Northeast region: Poland and the Baltic states. It then considers the implications for Poland and recommends how Polish defense should be reformed to...

  2. (pp. 1-7)

    Russian President Vladimir Putin’s regime does not disguise its hostility toward the West and its main institutions—NATO and the European Union (EU). Western values such as democracy, pluralism, transparency, human rights, freedoms, and the rule of law are antithetical to a kleptocratic, authoritarian regime. The Kremlin has, therefore, viewed with undisguised alarm both recent “color revolutions” in its neighborhood and the uprisings of the Arab Spring.

    Fearing that this is what is in store for Russia, the Kremlin has accused the West of instigating or even “weaponizing” those upheavals. Putin has set out to aggressively delegitimize, discredit, and undermine...

  3. (pp. 7-11)

    After the demise of the Soviet Union, the allies assumed that Russia was interested in a partnership with NATO and therefore sought a dialogue. However, despite the progress made since 2014, NATO currently lacks a cohesive strategy and suitable deterrence and defense posture to deal with a resurgent Russia. In particular, the Alliance must address four fundamental challenges.

    NATO’s current Strategic Concept adopted in 2010 (“Active Engagement, Modern Defense”), while not perfect, is adequate in the current environment. Furthermore, allies have made it abundantly clear that NATO’s main focus is on collective defense, further reducing the need to open this...

  4. (pp. 11-20)

    Given the nature of the threat and in line with the need for NATO to build a credible deterrence in the region, there is an urgent need to strengthen Poland’s defense capacity in order to reduce the temptation for Russia to spring a surprise attack. First and foremost, this requires the ability to defend against asymmetric interventions in the Baltics or out of Kaliningrad. In addition, it requires the ability to deter a “full spectrum” surprise conventional attack.

    The required moves fall into two categories, those for immediate action, where effects can be expected to materialize over an eighteen-month period,...