[…] In terms of sheer numbers of troops and weapons, NATO’s European members plus the U.S. troops presently stationed in Europe have a considerable edge. In 2021, the active ground forces (not counting reserves) of NATO’s five main European members numbered more than 500,000 troops, compared to Russia’s 280,000; and most of the latter are currently pinned down in Ukraine (or in tens of thousands of cases, dead or wounded). The United States has six combat brigades stationed in Europe; far smaller than overall Russian forces, but enough to seriously stiffen European resistance.
On paper, Russia has 22,000 armored vehicles compared to NATO’s 16,000. However, the evidence of the Ukraine war suggests that a great many of these Russian vehicles held in storage have in fact deteriorated to the point that they cannot be effectively deployed; and Russia’s remaining superiority in armor over Ukraine has been largely nullified by a combination of Ukrainian courage and NATO anti-tank weapons. The same has been true of Russia’s even more overwhelming superiority in the air when faced with U.S. anti-aircraft missiles. […]
A Russian invasion of the Baltic would, in any event, be a deeply irrational act in purely military terms; and while Putin’s invasion of Ukraine was utterly criminal, it was not insane — after all, as noted, Moscow’s assumptions of an easy short-term victory were shared by Western intelligence. The one circumstance in which Russia might feel compelled to invade Lithuania would be if Lithuania were to blockade access to the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad; which is why the EU would be wise to follow Germany’s lead exempting Kaliningrad from EU sanctions. Läs artikel