soldier in sunset

Europe has begun serious preparations for war. A year still in the safety reserve

“At least one piece of good news,” said a character from the “politburo” of the neighborhood of the Kuiviži store well known to the Twitter audience, in response to NATO’s announcement of the start of the Steadfast Defender military exercise next week. It is expected that the maneuvers will last until the end of May and about 90,000 soldiers from all 31 NATO member states and candidate country Sweden will participate in them.” BEN LATKOWSKI

The aim of the upcoming maneuvers is to sharpen NATO’s actions, should Russia carry out aggression against one of the NATO members. At the same time, NATO’s readiness to take action will be demonstrated, rather than sitting idly by if the master of the Kremlin were to think of doing something stupid. This will be the largest NATO exercise since the end of the Cold War, and it was not for nothing that I wrote that the maneuvers are planned until the end of May, because under certain conditions they can be extended or transformed into other types of exercises. In other words, combat equipment and contingents could remain in combat readiness as long as the threat persisted.

When reviewing various reviews of the European press, the very rapid change of mood or central idea in public opinion catches the eye. At least in Northern and Central Europe, including Germany. Back in the autumn, the possible expansion of hostilities outside Ukraine seemed unlikely and alarmists about the possibility of a major war in Europe were marginalized, but now the situation has fundamentally changed. The increasing risks of war are being written and spoken about, starting from London (prime minister Rishi Sunak’s address to the parliament) and ending in Helsinki (extensive publications in the newspapers “Keskisuomalainen”, “Iltalehti” and others). Action plans for hour X are also being developed here in Latvia in all critical infrastructure units.

What happened? Why has such a buzz started? There are several initiators. First, the European political class has realized that a Trump victory in the US presidential election scheduled for November 6 is more than possible. Although it is not yet possible to reliably predict what Trump’s actions will be if he really becomes the owner of the White House on January 20 next year, there are reasonable fears that the isolationist policy that he is currently actively promoting (you do what you want in Europe, we have our own problems), Trump continues after taking office.

This means that Europe will have to face Russian pressure alone. There is no telling what China’s policy will be. If China gets closer to Russia (increases the amount of more or less hidden aid), then Europe, remaining as it was until recently, would have very difficult times.

When we talk about Europe as it was until recently, we must understand the conviction that has been prevailing in Europe for many years that wars are possible somewhere far away. Where the backward, the poor who have not completed the decolonization process live. In civilized Europe, the age of war is over forever. We can engage in the humanization of the world. With the introduction of the famous DEI principle (diversity, equality, inclusiveness). In the defense sphere, this meant turning the armed forces from real security structures into a DEI training ground, where the focus is not on the military’s combat capabilities, but on the racial, gender, LGBTQ+ community proportions within it.

The prevailing opinion was that if someone really attacked us (but who would be that madman), then the US armed forces would defend us. The own armies became decorative as the Swiss cohort in the Vatican Guard. Weapons and armaments factories gradually closed, equipment was melted down, technological wisdom was forgotten. A carefree nirvana has set in, where one can dream of a world without the oppressed, without suffering, without violence. Not to mention wars.

Putin and Trump have awakened Europe from this sweet, intoxicating dream. Not everyone, but the ruling political class has reflected its vulnerability and actual weakness. British Foreign Secretary David Cameron, speaking in Parliament on Thursday, pointed out that the combined GDP of the NATO alliance is 25 to 1 against that of Russia, but what good is that when the willingness to fight has atrophied with toxic masculinism. Of course, Cameron did not say the last phrase of the previous sentence. So far, Europe has not woken up yet, but it is becoming more and more obvious to those who want to see something.

Unfortunately, the defense capabilities of Latvia (as well as Estonia and Lithuania) are insufficient. There is a lack of anti-aircraft defense equipment, long-range artillery batteries, serious heavy equipment. For many years there was a belief that we are safely protected by Article 5 of NATO. In the event of a real threat, NATO’s rapid reaction units will arrive and everything will be solved, suffering silently. We only have to stay for 48 or 72 hours, no matter who told. How to stand, with what forces, in what way, these questions remained out of the picture. It all seemed from an arsenal of theoretical wisdom that has little to do with real life. Now it is gradually becoming clear that this is a very real possibility.

In order not to sound like a panic, I will note that there is almost a consensus among observers: this year Russia will not take seriously aggressive actions against NATO countries (read: the Baltic States and Poland). Of course, this does not rule out various provocations, but a real attack is not expected, as Putin will wait for the US presidential election. As long as the man who has repeated the phrase “not an inch of NATO territory” countless times will sit in the White House, meanwhile Putin will not dare to test the strength of keeping Biden’s word.

This means that Europe has a year in reserve to prepare for the Kremlin’s challenges. Unfortunately, the famous Russian proverb about the farmer who will not cross before the thunder is heard also applies to Western democracies. So far, they have only reacted to facts that have already happened. Only when something bad has already happened, active counteraction begins. Prevention is forgotten.

Will it be different this time? We would very much like to hope for it, and the biggest NATO maneuvers in the last thirty years are a serious prerequisite for the fulfillment of these hopes.

Translated from original article at https://neatkariga.nra.lv/komentari/bens-latkovskis/444494-eiropa-sakusi-nopietnu-gatavosanos-karam-gads-vel-drosibas-rezerve