War Drums In Europe

Suddenly, there is talk everywhere of war in Europe. On Monday, I wrote about warnings from Germany and Sweden of a possible Russian invasion. The drumbeat continues.

The London Times lays out a scenario for a Russian attack:

A few years after a break in the fighting for Ukraine, the Kremlin seizes its moment and strikes at the Baltic states.

While Nato forces clog up overstretched roads and railways across Germany and Poland in a race to reinforce the front line, the Russians have captured more than half of the three countries’ territory and most of their sizeable cities.

The Suwalki Gap, the land bridge connecting the Baltic states to the rest of Nato, has been severed.
This is the nightmare scenario sketched out by the German Nato commander charged with preparing the defence of northeast Europe, Lieutenant General Jürgen-Joachim von Sandrart.

From the Independent:

Vladimir Putin could launch an attack on Nato in the next five to eight years, Germany’s defence minister has said – with one top officer within the alliance even calling on nations to be ready for an all-out war with Moscow within two decades.
“We hear threats from the Kremlin almost every day … so we have to take into account that Vladimir Putin might even attack a Nato country one day,” Boris Pistorius said.

While a Russian attack is not likely “for now”, the minister told German outlet Der Tagesspiegel, he added: “Our experts expect a period of five to eight years in which this could be possible.”

On Thursday, top Nato military commander Admiral Rob Bauer said private citizens need to be ready for a possible conflict within 20 years.
Admiral Bauer was speaking after a committee meeting in Brussels. It comes with Nato set to launch its biggest military exercises in decades next week. Around 90,000 personnel are set to take part in months of drills aimed at showing the alliance can defend all of its territories up to the Russian border.

From the Telegraph:

Just as Ukraine is running frighteningly low on stocks as its two largest financial donors are frozen in paralysis, Russia has begun rearming and reindustrialising at an alarming rate, promising to devote between 30-40 per cent of its economic output this year on its military machine.
This comes on the back of recent intelligence assessments that suggest a likelihood of Russia attacking either tiny Moldova or Georgia next once it has achieved a victory of-sorts in Ukraine, and after it has rearmed accordingly. This would be followed by a move against the vulnerable Baltic states Russia still views through its ethno-nationalistic and Soviet Union-era prism as Russian territory, undeserving of post-Cold War independence, much like Ukraine.

More from Lord Dannatt in the Times:

When Grant Shapps stated on Monday that we are moving “from a postwar to a prewar world”, a shiver should have gone down our collective spine.

A glance around the world confirms the multiple threats to our security, the most significant of which for the UK is President Putin’s continued aggression in Ukraine. At the same time, voices in the United States query whether our armed forces are even in the second tier of military capability, let alone the top tier.
Among the many symptoms of our frailty is the declining numeric strength of our armed forces, in particular the army. While the Royal Navy may have to decommission two warships and mothball the two amphibious landing ships for lack of sailors, the army is stretching itself to breaking point.

What to make of this talk about war? European leaders obviously are preparing their citizens (i.e., voters) for the reality that the decades of easy living since the fall of the Soviet Union are likely over. More will need to be spent on defense; armies and navies will need to grow; complacency will need to give way to vigilance.

There is another theme too, that Europeans can’t rely on America to bail them out. The U.S., they say, is preoccupied with our Pacific rivalry with China, a far more formidable adversary than Russia. We Americans, Europeans are saying, expect Europeans to be mostly responsible for dealing with a threat to Europe. Which is not unreasonable.

The 20th century was mostly defined by conflicts that originated in Europe. For a time, it seemed that such armed conflicts were a thing of the past. But perhaps not.

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