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CAN Enhanced (Permanent?) Fwd Presence in Latvia

Pikache

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Crimea and the Donbass both have majority Russian populations and Russia was likely pretty confident that there wouldn't be any major resistance by the locals to their "liberation". I don't think the situation in the Baltic States would be the same. And as others here have mentioned, the NATO tripwire defence is more about forcing Russia to kill a bunch of NATO soldiers in order to take the territory.

A better investment in my mind would be to provide civil and economic support to strengthen the Baltic States. If the people of these countries (especially the Russian minorities there) feel they have a better life within the existing system then they would under Russian rule, then Moscow will have little opportunity to try and spark some kind of hybrid intrusion into the Baltics.

It's a bit of different story to compare Russian demographics of Crimea/Donbas vs Latvia. Crimea and Donbas had majority ethnic Russians while in Latvia, very few, and only adding to small total area of Latvia is ethnic Russian majority. (Of coincidentally, Riga has the most significant concentration of ethnic Russians in Latvia) So, it would be very messy for Russians to use protection of ethnic Russians as an excuse to stage some kind of take over of (parts) of Latvia.

I think Latvian government is also addressing the civil grievance of ethnic Russians living in Latvians, of one of biggest complaint is that a lot of ethnic Russians have a hard time to get Latvian citizenship. So, the Latvian govt is working towards making it easier at least for the kids of Russians to get Latvian citizenship. (Funny enough, ethnic Russian party won the most seats in Latvian parliament last election)

And with a Latvian citizenship, you get access to EU and other opportunities educationally and/or employment wise. Even just living in Latvia, average income is higher than in Russia IIRC, and Russian economy is not doing so good and probably for the next couple of years, with post COVID economic recovery combined with low oil prices which Russia relies heavily for economic growth. So why would you want to live under Russian rule, when your prospects are better with Latvia and EU?
 

Pikache

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Fair point on the low hanging fruit, but not sure that Russia hasn't already pruned and cultivated what they feel is in their strategic interests. They stayed out of the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict until it ended, the enclave that those two countries were fighting over was not important enough for Russia to intercede. One end result is that Armenia is now even more tightly ensconced with Russia, and will rely on re-armament from Russian industry for tanks, artillery etc to replace front line losses, and is likely already in negotiations to procure UAV's. I suspect as well that Russian military advisors will be visiting Armenian defence installations for the next few years.
Russia already has a military presence in Georgia, but specifically told Georgia that they will not intervene in Nagorno-Karabakh for two reasons IMO. 1. Punish the Georgian PM for trying to get away from Russian sphere of influence politically, 2. ensure Georgia stays firmly in Russian sphere of influence.

Russia is more than likely to intervene in any country they consider 'near abroad', and they consider Caucasus area a southern security concern. None intervention would have meant significant influence by Turkey in southern Caucasus, of which Russia does not want. Russia is probably pissed off that Turkey already has lodgement, and likely maneuvering to get rid of Turkey's influence.

But we digress
 
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