In Northern Europe they warn of war with Russia. NATO is simulating an attack from the east. Bunkers are built in the Baltic. How likely is the head-to-head scenario really?
The USS Gunston Hall crosses the Atlantic Ocean. It charts the course for Europe. When the amphibious landing ship departed Norfolk, Virginia, this week, she kicked off Steadfast Defender 2024, the largest NATO exercise in decades since the end of the Cold War. 90,000 soldiers are rehearsing a series of exercises until May, in case of emergency. The scenario: a simulated attack by an “almost equal” adversary. In other words: NATO is waging war with Russia.
The beginning of the maneuver comes at a nervous moment. Warnings of an armed conflict with Russia are increasing. In Sweden, the Minister of Civil Defense recently told his countrymen that there could be war. On NATO's eastern flank, in the Baltic countries, it was announced that the border with Russia would be fortified. In Estonia alone, they intend to build 600 bunkers on green fields. And Boris Pistorius, the German defense minister, warns that Putin could attack NATO territory within “five to eight years”. Others assume ten years or 20.
The time horizons vary, but not the central message that the West must prepare for a confrontation with Russia, because this scenario still seems unlikely, but no longer impossible. Or?