Foreign Policy wrote yesterday:
In June 2014, two US defense experts were asked “to run a thought exercise called a ‘table top’, a sort of war game between two teams: the red team (Russia) and the blue team (NATO). The scenario was similar to the one that played out in Crimea and eastern Ukraine: increasing Russian political pressure on Estonia and Latvia (two NATO countries that share borders with Russia and have sizable Russian-speaking minorities), followed by the appearance of provocateurs, demonstrations, and the seizure of government buildings (…) After eight hours of gaming out various scenarios, the blue team went home depressed.”
NATO was not able to defend the Baltics.
The exercise has been conducted eight times now with active-duty military officers (altogether it was played 16 different times with eight different teams and with different constellations).
Still, NATO lost.
The implication has been that NATO will let Russia have its first victory in the Baltics, and then try to regain the territory.
Will this work out?
The Daily Beast wrote that according to interviewed US defense officials a “series of classified exercises over the summer has raised concerns inside the Defense Department that its forces are not prepared for a sustained military campaign against Russia.”
So, the military side is clear.
What about the political implications of a Russian move in the region?
To ease them, Russia is raising the stakes in Syria (sending its military) and western Europe (which are the main destination for immigrants from the region). The more important Russia becomes here, the more it will allow itself in eastern Europe, and soon.