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IT HAS BEEN TWO DAYS since the initial attack. The bases that fell under attack have sustained serious damage and can no longer be used, while much of the available artillery, tanks, helicopters and even ships have been destroyed. On the third day, the Russian 6th Army (Russian 6th Army: Including 138th Brigade, 25th Brigade, and 9th Brigade) conducts a rapid offensive operation from Luga (Leningrad Oblast) and quickly occupies even more territory in Estonia, Latvia and northern Lithuania. Russian forces now control major highways and thoroughfares, and commerce grinds to a halt. Moreover, the Russian navy has now imposed an impenetrable blockade (impenetrable blockade: States have employednaval blockades as a form of siege warfare to decisive effect in conflicts, including the American Civil War and World War I. In recent years, the Saudi-led blockade of Yemen’s Hodeidah port prevented the delivery of food, fuel, medicine, and other aid to civilians, exacerbating the country’s humanitarian crisis. The blockade of Gaza, which began in 2007, has left the territory with a chronic water crisis and shortages of crucial medical supplies.) of all merchant shipping in and out of Klaipida (Lithuania) and Riga (Latvia). Supermarket shelves and pharmacies run empty, and many public services including mail and sanitation grind to a halt.

BUT RUSSIA'S ATTEMPT to prevent a NATO response by avoiding French, German, and British forces in its attack has failed. Its forces in the Baltics encircled but unharmed, NATO invokes Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty and prepares to respond.

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THE U.S. AIR FORCE attacks Russian forces north of Vilnius (Vilnius: A city of about 540,000 people, Vilnius is renowned for its vibrant arts and culture. Gediminas’ Tower, a hilltop fortification first built over six hundred years ago, marks the site of Vilnius’ founding legend and still serves as a Lithuanian national symbol. The city’s population density is 1,392 people per square kilometer or 3,610 people per square mile, comparable to Spokane, Washington.) and Klaipeda to stop their movement to the south. Two Russian brigades are decimated. But Russian S-400 and S-500 anti-aircraft missiles down 6 aircraft, killing three American pilots and taking others captive. 

THE CONFLICT CONTINUES to escalate, as U.S. and NATO forces respond with an even larger air campaign against invading Russian Forces. Russia in turn launches anti-aircraft missiles from the Kaliningrad enclave (Kaliningrad,: Nearly half a million people live in the city of Kaliningrad, which was known as Königsberg until the Soviet Union captured it from Germany in World War II. Allied bombing destroyed 41% of all buildings in the city, now one of Russia’s largest industrial centers. Kaliningrad has a population density of 1,900 people per square kilometer or 5,000 people per square mile, similar to Detroit, Michigan.) but this time NATO forces respond with a devastating salvo of missiles that hit military installations and the Pregolsky, Mayakovskays and Talakhovskaya power stations, knocking out electricity for the entire region. (power outage: Whether they occur as part of an external attack, a government crackdown, or an economic crisis, disruptions to electricity, telecommunications, and internet access have devastating effects on civilian populations. Blackouts often force businesses, schools, and hospitals to shut down. Lack of heating and cooling may expose people to life-threatening temperatures. Internet and telecommunications cut-offs sow confusion and destabilize lives by limiting access to information during crises.) As Russia evacuates civilians from the area, pictures begin to flood the internet of children in tears, leaving by air and sea.

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HAVING ALREADY miscalculated and now in a weaker position, Russia decides it must raise the cost of further resistance. Russia launches missiles directly against Lithuanian and Polish troops stationed near Vilnius and Kaunus, (Kaunus: Kaunas is home to nearly 300,000 people and has a population density of 1,935 people per square kilometer or 5,010 people per square mile, which is comparable to Cleveland, Ohio. A sister city of Los Angeles, Kaunas is considered Lithuania’s second city, and it served as a center of resistance during Soviet rule.) but the imprecise targeting results in significant numbers of civilian casualties in the cities. (: According to Action on Armed Violence, when explosive weapons are used in populated areas, at least nine of every ten casualties are likely to be civilian.)

MEANWHILE, THE WORLD watches as the most severe displacement crisis (severe displacement crisis: Armed conflict is a leading cause of forced displacement around the world. The UN Refugee Agency estimated that 11.2 million people were newly displaced in 2020 due to ongoing conflicts in Syria, Somalia, Ethiopia, Yemen, Afghanistan, the Sahel, and elsewhere.) to affect Europe unfolds in real time. The political leadership in Germany, fearful of losing a fragile mandate, sets a hard limit on the number of refugees it can accept, leading to greater numbers heading for Poland. Protests, calling for Europe to “let them in” are met with counter-protests. Tensions run high. Russians affected by the lack of electric power and desperate to leave Kaliningrad continue the exodus.