- Reaction score
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?