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A nation must think before it acts.
Until the Russian Federation’s annexation of Crimea in 2014, the West had not seriously considered strategy in the Baltic context. Although much research and deliberation has been undertaken on topics crucial to Baltic defense, these have tended to be focused narrowly on the military—operational and logistical considerations. Despite the clear importance of strategy, little has been written about it as a theory for Baltic defense in a hypothetical war. Two major considerations are worth highlighting in this strategic context: the problem of sanctuary and the importance of Western honor—particularly as both relate to war termination. Russia as a “sanctuary” puts a political limit on the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s (NATO) ability to coerce Russia militarily, whereas considerations of honor may prove an insufficiently strong motive to sustain active Western participation in a hypothetical war over the long term.