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War with Russia on NATO’s northern flank no longer abstract: “They’re already building bunkers there”

2024-03-01T04:44:27.236Z

Highlights: War with Russia on NATO’s northern flank no longer abstract: “They’re already building bunkers there”. “Unlike before, hot war is raging in the middle of Europe at the same time as the Cold War,” says Tobias Etzold. Russia recently had refugees brought to the border with Finland in order to put the country under pressure. And in the Baltic states they are preparing for concrete attacks. Russia is apparently able to reproduce and compensate for the consumption of material from the Ukraine war, but now also replenish depots.



As of: March 1, 2024, 5:24 a.m

By: Peter Sieben

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Shortly before Putin's State of the Union speech, the rhetoric in NATO countries is changing.

War is no longer out of the question.

One country in particular is taking precautions.

Oslo/Berlin – The pure peace and quiet is over in the north.

Concern about a Russian attack is growing in Scandinavia and the Baltics.

Only recently Carl-Oskar Bohlin, Sweden's Minister for Civil Protection, made it clear: "There could be war in Sweden." He didn't want to stir up fear, but the Swedes had to prepare for a possible military conflict.

War with Russia: “You want to prepare the population”

“The rhetoric in the north and on NATO's eastern flank has changed; politicians and senior military officials in Sweden and Norway are making it very clear that involvement in a war is no longer abstract,” says Tobias Etzold.

He conducts research at the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs (Nupi), among other things, on international security policy.

“The very concrete signs of war are still missing.

“But you want to prepare the population for cyber attacks or attacks on critical infrastructure,” said Etzold.

Tobias Etzold researches at the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs in Oslo.

© Peter Sieben

You can already see in the north and east how Putin is setting an example: Russia recently had refugees brought to the border with Finland in order to put the country under pressure.

And in the Baltic states they are preparing for concrete attacks.

“Bunkers and shelters are already being built there so that as many people as possible can be brought to safety in the event of an attack,” says Etzold.

NATO Eastern Flank: Great concern in Lithuania about a “Pearl Harbor moment”

Just a few days ago, Lithuania's Foreign Minister Gabrielius Landsbergis warned in an interview of a “Pearl Harbor moment” for NATO.

Lithuania could be among the first NATO states that Putin would attack.

“An attack on the Baltics is an absolutely realistic scenario,” said Florian Hahn, defense policy spokesman for the Union parliamentary group, recently at a press conference in Berlin.

Russia is apparently not only able to reproduce and compensate for the consumption of material from the Ukraine war, but can now also replenish depots.

“This means that the period after a Ukraine war in which Russia is able to attack the Baltics has been significantly reduced,” said Hahn.

The threat from Russia is also taken seriously in Norway.

“Steadfast Defender 2024,” the largest NATO exercise since the end of the Cold War, will run in Europe until May.

In Norway the maneuver is called “Nordic Response”.

The exercise is a signal to Russia that they want to demonstrate NATO's defense capability.

“But it’s not just a signal to Russia.

NATO wants to be specifically prepared in the event of a crisis,” defense expert Robin Allers from the Norwegian Defense University (FHS) made clear a few days ago.

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Meanwhile, the arms race is back in full swing and the NATO countries are demonstrating unity.

Memories are awakened of times that one had hoped had been put to rest once and for all.

“One can certainly speak of a new Cold War,” says expert Tobias Etzold.

There are again two blocs, no more cooperation with Russia and a massive rearmament in the West too.

“And recently there have been calls to equip Europe with nuclear weapons again.

These are patterns that we know from the times of the Cold War.” A big difference: “Unlike before, a hot war is raging in the middle of Europe at the same time.”

Putin's State of the Nation Speech: "Nervousness in the West is increasing"

Russian President Vladimir Putin will give his State of the Union address on Thursday.

He is unlikely to say anything specific about war plans, but many observers will be watching for signs.

“The nervousness in the West is increasing, people in the North and East will also listen very carefully when Putin gives his speech to the nation,” says Etzold.

Source: merkur

All news articles on 2024-03-01

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