February 27, 2024

NATO’s Confusion Over the Russia Threat

In Europe, not a week goes by without another stark warning about the growing potential of a Russian attack on a European Union member, especially if Ukraine loses the war. “We have to take into account that Vladimir Putin might even attack a NATO country one day,” German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius told the Tagesspiegel newspaper in January. Two months earlier, he had warned that Germany needed to become “capable of fighting a war.” Swedish commander-in-chief Gen. Micael Bydén similarly urged Swedes to “prepare for war,” while the head of the British Army told Britons that they are part of a “prewar generation” that may have to fight Russia in the not so distant future. The fear was driven home by prospective Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, who told a campaign rally that he would “encourage” the Russians “to do whatever the hell they want” to any European NATO member not spending enough on defense.

NATO should not take the Russian military’s poor performance in Ukraine as a reason to be complacent.

These statements have usually been accompanied by a number of estimates of how quickly Russia can regenerate forces and equipment lost in Ukraine in order to attack a NATO country. Pistorius thinks this will take “five to eight years,” whereas the outgoing chief of Estonian military intelligence estimated that Russia could be ready for war again within four years. “It cannot be ruled out that within a three- to five-year period, Russia will test Article 5 and NATO’s solidarity,” according to Denmark’s defense minister. Poland’s national security agency believes that Russia could attack NATO as soon as three years from now.

Read the full article from Foreign Policy.

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