NATO’s eastern flank: Lithuania is reminiscent of West Berlin during the Cold War


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Lithuania is reminiscent of West Berlin during the Cold War

WELT chief commentator Jacques Schuster WELT chief commentator Jacques Schuster

WELT chief commentator Jacques Schuster

Source: Claudius Plough

The Baltic states would not be able to withstand an attack by Russian troops for long. Stationing 4,000 Bundeswehr soldiers in Lithuania will do little to change the geostrategic situation. But that’s not the point – as it was in West Berlin at the time.

Lithuania’s location resembles that of West Berlin during the Cold War. At that time, 10,000 American, British and French soldiers were stationed in the walled half-town. They faced 500,000 Soviet soldiers in the GDR. Everyone involved in the West was clear: the 10,000 would not have withstood the 500,000 for long.

It wasn’t about that. If the Soviet Union attacked, not only Berliners but also Allied soldiers would have died. Her death would inevitably have drawn the western allies into war. Moscow knew it and had never dared to annihilate West Berlin, even though the semi-city was indefensible.

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Defense Minister Boris Pistorius (SPD, left) welcomes Christian Nawrat, commander of the German brigade in Lithuania

German Brigade in Lithuania

The situation is similar in the Baltic States today. In the event of an attack, the three small states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania with their well-trained armies would not be able to withstand Russian troops for long. They lack the hinterland to dodge. The Allies would probably do little either, although they hope to hold off enemy troops until supplies and aid arrive from the United States.

The decision of the federal government, in the future permanently To station 4000 Bundeswehr soldiers in Lithuania, will change little in the geostrategic situation. But, as in the West Berlin case, it doesn’t matter at all. Lithuania and with it the entire Baltic region must know – just like Moscow – that a Russian attack on the Bundeswehr and other NATO soldiers would trigger the alliance, draw NATO into the war and activate all the deterrence mechanisms that have been in use since the end of the were designed in the 1950s. Russia would immediately find itself at war with all NATO countries.

In the shadow of a furious nuclear power

This consequence would have threatened even without the permanent presence of German and later perhaps also British and French troops in the Baltic States. The previous principle of an alternating presence of German and Allied troops has also made deterrence effective.

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Vladimir Putin (left) at a meeting with Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko in Sochi

Only: You have to understand the Lithuanians. In the shadow of one furious nuclear power Allied protection troops on the ground are less a military and more a psychological insurance. No one else knows this as well as the old West Berliners. By the way: Bonn assumed most of the costs for the presence of Allied troops in the Federal Republic until the end of the Cold War. How about Vilnius?

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