5 Countries Putin Could Invade Next (in order of likelihood)

Putin's invasion of Ukraine has got everyone including national politicians speaking about where his imperial ambitions will lead him next and the shock of war on the European continent has meant that hypotheticals that previously seemed impossible now seem worryingly conceivable now before we go into it, we should say that we don't want to be alarmist just because Putin has invaded Ukraine doesn't mean he's going to invade anywhere else but in this blog we thought we'd take a look at this question and look at where Putin might invade next as we see it there are five places where Putin could invade next they are in order of likeliness Moldova Georgia Finland the suvalky gap and then the Baltic states now again we'd like to stress that we aren't saying any of these are likely outcomes for what it's worth we consider all of these apart from maybe Moldova as very unlikely outcomes especially given how Putin's current invasion is going for him anyway, disclaimer aside let's get into it the first and most likely candidate for Putin's second invasion is Moldova or more specifically Transnistria for those who don't know Transnistria is a de facto autonomous region in the east of Moldova bordering Ukraine for most of its post-soviet history Transnistria has been run by pro-Russian separatists and now acts essentially as an independent state today Transnistria has its own currency passport parliament constitution flag anthem and even football team but why does that mean that they're on Putin's list well there are basically five reasons why they're the most likely firstly, Russia already has troops in Transnistria in the form of the ogrf which means that taking it wouldn't be all that difficult secondly Moldova isn't in Nato or the EU which makes things easier for Putin although it is worth saying that Moldova actually applied to join the EU this week largely in reaction to Putin's invasion of Ukraine the third reason it looks likely is Transnistria is part of Novo Russia a historical region apparently informs Putin's imperial ambitions fourthly Transnistria has already made it clear that it wants to join Russia all three Transnistrian leaders have said as much and there was even a referendum on the topic in 2006 where the public firmly gave it their support fifth and perhaps most importantly though in his press conference on Tuesday Bella Russian president Lukashenko showed a map which seemed to indicate that Russia would be launching offensive against Ukraine from Transnistria which would suggest at least deeper cooperation between Russia and Transnistria possibly pre-staging a political union so that's why Moldova and more specifically, transcend stria comes top of our list but next most likely is Georgia or more specifically south Ossetia and Abkhazia much like Transnistria these regions are run by pro-Russian separatists and Russia has recognized them as independent states since 2008 when Russian troops repelled Georgian forces from the territories today most of the people who live there have Russian passports and consider themselves to be ethnically Russian so South Ossetia and Abkhazia are next on our list because much like Transnistria they're former soviet territories where Russia already has a troop presence and much like Donbass Russia currently recognizes them as independent republics something it notably doesn't do for Transnistria Putin will probably also be aware that if he wants to take them he'll have to do so relatively soon Georgia was promised Nato membership in 2008 along with Ukraine and last week it also put in an application to join the EU nonetheless, an invasion doesn't seem all that likely Putin looks pretty preoccupied with Ukraine and it doesn't look like a great cost-benefit calculation Putin just doesn't gain much from annexing two small regions that already support Russia and post-Ukraine any Russian aggression is bound to incur significant consequences next on the list though is Finland again a big disclaimer here a Russian invasion of Finland is very very unlikely nonetheless, it comes third on our list for two reasons firstly Finland isn't currently a member of Nato so invasion wouldn't trigger article 5 NATO's mutual defense clause secondly, Finland is currently considering joining Nato something that Putin has made very clear he doesn't like since World War ii Finland has remained remarkably neutral refusing to choose between the west and Russia Finland joined neither Nato nor the wars or pact in the cold war and after it signed an agreement with the European economic community in 1962 Finland quickly joined the Soviet-led Comic-Con as an observer in 1973 to maintain their symmetrical relations between the two blocks nonetheless in the last few decades Finland has begun to tilt westwards in 1994 it joined NATO's partnership for peace and in 1995 it became a member of the European union Finland's current president has even regularly insisted that Finland is free to choose its own military alignment including possibly joining Nato Russia's invasion in Ukraine has dramatically accelerated this trend too with recent polling finding that for the first time ever a majority of Finns now want to join the alliance and on Tuesday Finnish MPs gathered to discuss Nato membership Finland even offered anti-tank weapons to Ukraine a significant break from their famous neutrality and unsurprisingly Putin didn't like this and recently the Russian foreign ministry warned that Finnish accession to Nato would trigger quote serious military-political consequences which is why we're putting a non-zero probability on a Russian invasion of Finland fourth on our list though is the suvalky gap now we've discussed this at length in another blog so if you want to know more then you can go and watch that it's linked in the description but capturing the suvalky gap will essentially join Kaliningrad to Belarus the Slovakia gap sits on the Poland Lithuania border so it is possible that Russia's annexation would trigger NATO's article 5. but if Putin were to annex Nato territory this is probably where he'd go not least because it would cut the Baltic states off from the rest of Nato nonetheless the risk of triggering NATO's article 5 makes this outcome very very unlikely at least in our eyes fifth and final on our list would be one of the Baltic states themselves again this is very unlikely largely because it would definitely trigger NATO's article 5 but it's not impossible the polish prime minister and former Australian prime minister Tony Abbott have warned that the Baltic states are next on Putin's wish list to reconstruct the Soviet Union and it's hard to rule anything out with Putin these days so that's the list a grouping of countries who are very wary of the fact that they could be the next Ukraine however, with so much effort and Russian focus being expended in Ukraine it's safe to assume that these countries can sleep easily right now but these are countries where their political system is at least in some way geared to the idea that Putin could be breathing down their necks if not militarily then using cyber and propaganda tools to influence their neighbors there are countries on the other end of this spectrum though Transnistria the breakaway region of Moldova we mentioned earlier is desperate to join Russia and in fact, voted overwhelmingly to request Russia takes them.