A RAND Corporation wargame reveals that NATO is in absolutely no shape to even slow down Russia in its near-abroad:
Assuming NATO has a week to detect a coming invasion, the alliance could deploy an equivalent of 12 maneuver battalions in the Baltic states. This includes the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team rushed from Vicenza, Italy, but no main battle tanks. Poland — which has the largest tank force in Europe west of the Bug River — would be “assumed to be committed to defend the [Polish] national territory” and blocking Russian forces from moving south from Kaliningrad.
However, Russia could mass the equivalent of 22 maneuver battalions, including four tank battalions and large amounts of artillery from its Western Military District. Russia would also have an advantage in the air, with 27 squadrons of fighters and bombers compared to 18.5 NATO squadrons. While able to challenge Russian aircraft, the NATO planes could not quickly establish air superiority. Russian combat planes would then create “bubbles” of undefended airspace to launch “massed waves of air attacks.”
There’s an important lesson here — though Russia cannot challenge the United States or NATO globally, it can do so locally … and win.
To be sure, NATO has additional forces including at least two-dozen M-1 Abrams tanks and 30 M-2 Bradley fighting vehicles stored in Grafenwoehr, Germany. But RAND estimates those tanks need at least 10 days to organize and travel. Not enough time before a Russian victory.
This is why Trump’s election was so important. All of the neocons, Republicans, and Democrats pounding the drum for direct conflict with Russia over Syria or Ukraine are completely ignoring the grim reality of the situation for their so-called allies. Russia has not taken Georgia, Ukraine, or the Baltics because Putin does not want the increased expense and trouble of occupying them.
But if he has to in order to keep NATO from establishing bases and missiles on Russia’s doorstep, I very much doubt he will hesitate.
The USA still possesses the most powerful military on Earth, but it is no longer a true superpower. And it won’t be too long, perhaps 20 years, before a joint Russian-Chinese alliance will be more militarily powerful than NATO even if the USA does not politically disintegrate before then.