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Will NATO Go to Nuclear War for Estonia?

April 21, 2015 (EIRNS)—British troops, along with some American ones, are heading to Estonia for "Operation Hedgehog," an exercise to train Estonian troops (of whom there are only a few thousand total, including reservists) how to go to war against Russia. "The three Baltic States—Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia—are concerned that Mr. Putin will attempt similar aggression on their borders as he has done with Ukraine, which saw Moscow’s annexation of the Crimea region," reports the U.K. paper Daily Express.

Were Russia really interested in invading Estonia, there would be no way short of early employment of nuclear weapons, to stop it. So argues David Blair, columnist for the Daily Telegraph of London, who asks if Britain’s leaders understood this when Estonia came under NATO’s Article V when it joined the alliance in 2004.

"Did our leaders grasp the possible consequences of guaranteeing the security of a former Soviet republic with an eastern border only 100 miles from St Petersburg?" Blair asks. He notes that during the Cold War, NATO planners believed that a Soviet invasion of Western Europe would go through Germany’s Fulda gap. Now, Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves believes the Fulda Gap lies between Russia proper and Kaliningrad (The "Fulda Gap" is now hundreds of miles closer to Russia than during the Cold War, due to NATO expansion, but Blair never takes this up, preferring to perpetuate the myth that Russia is the aggressor state), and if Russia were to take that invasion route, NATO would be blocked from sending forces to defend Estonia, because there are no NATO troops in Estonia to defend it. And, if NATO placed the troops in Estonia that Ilves is demanding, Russia would see it as a grave escalation.

"Before you start climbing the escalatory ladder, you must be sure that your adversary will not go three or four rungs higher," Blair writes. "It’s safe to assume that Mr Putin would always be willing to climb further than the West, so Russia would inevitably win a game of escalation." Therefore, the only option that NATO has to defend its Baltic members is to go nuclear. If NATO refuses to do that, then the alliance is over. "By moving against the Baltic states, Mr Putin could force us to choose between scrapping NATO or going nuclear," Blair concludes. "Does anyone believe the thought has never crossed his mind?"