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POLITICS

War on the horizon: Europe finds itself ill-prepared for a direct armed conflict with Russia

European Council President Charles Michel has called for the E.U. to transition to a wartime economic mode. At a summit on March 21-22, leaders of E.U. member states met to discuss topics that included joint arms acquisitions, increasing military budgets, and expediting ammunition deliveries to Kyiv. Despite the apparent hurdles faced by the Russian army in Ukraine, European politicians and military leaders harbor serious concerns about Vladimir Putin's potential to instigate further conflicts. There's a fear that such actions could lead to war with a NATO member state, essentially placing all of Europe in jeopardy. Since the end of the Cold War, most European countries have significantly reduced the size of their armed forces — along with their stocks of weapons and ammunition. Notably, the entire ammunition supply of the German Bundeswehr would barely sustain two days of combat against an adversary like Russia. As the campaign rhetoric of Donald Trump continues to cast doubt on the long-term reliability of America as a guarantor of security for its NATO allies, European nations feel increasingly compelled to swiftly increase their military spending.

Content
  • Europe braces itself for the specter of war

  • Scholz, Macron, where's the ammunition?

  • Is Europe prepared for war?

  • Defense policy shift

  • The likelihood of conflict in Europe

Europe braces itself for the specter of war

Earlier this year, Micael Bydén, the Commander-in-Chief of the Swedish Armed Forces, urged citizens to prepare for conflict. Meanwhile, Carl-Oscar Bohlin, Minister for Civil Defense, directly linked the military threat to Vladimir Putin's actions in Ukraine. Concerns even permeated social media platforms like TikTok, where helplines in Sweden witnessed an influx of anxious children and teenagers.

Following these developments, a wave of alarmist statements emanated from European political and military circles regarding the prospect of impending war.

German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius warned of the need to brace for a potential attack by Vladimir Putin on a NATO member state.

Lieutenant General Gheorghiță Vlad, Romania's Chief of Defence, forewarned of an inevitable military escalation in Moldova should the Russian army triumph in Ukraine. He also predicted heightened instability in the Balkans.

The Chief of the General Staff of the United Kingdom, General Patrick Sanders, urged for a “national mobilization” in response to the Russian threat. This call prompted the government to clarify that it pertains to a “shift in public consciousness,” rather than a plan to reinstate conscription.

Germany's armed forces.

The Suwalki Corridor is a sparsely populated area on the border between Lithuania and Poland, through which the Baltic states are connected to the rest of the E.U. The strip of land serves as the shortest transportation route between Belarus and the Kaliningrad exclave of the Russian Federation.



SOF stands for Special Operations Forces. These are elite special forces units in Russia, Ukraine, the United States, and other countries.

An artillery round is a more accurate term for artillery munitions, commonly referred to as shells — it typically consists of the projectile (shell) itself, the propellant charge providing the initial velocity to the projectile, and the casing that holds these two elements together.

The Chief of the General Staff of the United Kingdom, General Patrick Sanders, has urged for a “national mobilization” in response to the Russian threat

Opinions regarding the timing of a potential Russian attack differ. The German publication Bild reportedly disclosed a secret document from the Bundeswehr outlining a possible scenario for conflict between Russia and NATO. According to this document, a direct clash in the Baltic states and the Suwalki Corridor area could occur as soon as the summer of 2025. However, such an event would require the Kremlin to initiate a new mobilization and achieve significant success on the Ukrainian front by this summer.

Germany's armed forces.

The Suwalki Corridor is a sparsely populated area on the border between Lithuania and Poland, through which the Baltic states are connected to the rest of the E.U. The strip of land serves as the shortest transportation route between Belarus and the Kaliningrad exclave of the Russian Federation.



SOF stands for Special Operations Forces. These are elite special forces units in Russia, Ukraine, the United States, and other countries.

An artillery round is a more accurate term for artillery munitions, commonly referred to as shells — it typically consists of the projectile (shell) itself, the propellant charge providing the initial velocity to the projectile, and the casing that holds these two elements together.

Bild's scenario of war between Russia and NATO in Europe in summer 2025
Bild's scenario of war between Russia and NATO in Europe in summer 2025
Bild

Meanwhile, the British tabloid Daily Mail offered its readers a futuristic prediction of a hybrid attack on Europe set in 2044, encompassing the cyberspace, land, water, and air domains. The forecast included references to Russian “tanks controlled by artificial intelligence” and SOF initiating the invasion.

Germany's armed forces.

The Suwalki Corridor is a sparsely populated area on the border between Lithuania and Poland, through which the Baltic states are connected to the rest of the E.U. The strip of land serves as the shortest transportation route between Belarus and the Kaliningrad exclave of the Russian Federation.



SOF stands for Special Operations Forces. These are elite special forces units in Russia, Ukraine, the United States, and other countries.

An artillery round is a more accurate term for artillery munitions, commonly referred to as shells — it typically consists of the projectile (shell) itself, the propellant charge providing the initial velocity to the projectile, and the casing that holds these two elements together.

Daily Mail's scenario of war between Russia and NATO in Europe in 2044
Daily Mail's scenario of war between Russia and NATO in Europe in 2044
Daily Mail

Between these two extremes — war in just a year or in two decades hence — lies a significant portion of more authoritative forecasts than the fantasies of the international tabloid press. Given the losses Russia continues to sustain in Ukraine, experts generally agree that it will take the country’s armed forces anywhere from 6 to 10 years to restore their combat readiness to a level sufficient for even a limited conflict with NATO. Boris Pistorius mentions a range of 5 to 8 years. Danish Defense Minister Troels Lund Poulsen leans towards 3-5 years. The commander of the Norwegian Army, General Eirik Kristoffersen, estimates a period of 2-3 years.

Adding fuel to the fire are the shocking statements of U.S. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, who openly declared that he would encourage Russia to engage in aggressive actions (literally “do whatever the hell it wants”) against those NATO countries that do not spend enough on defense, meaning less than 2% of GDP. As early as 2020, President Trump told European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen that he would not come to Europe's aid in the event of war, would withdraw from NATO, and also asked his interlocutor to “repay the debt” of $400 billion that the Germans had “saved” on defense spending by relying on America’s commitment to the NATO Article 5 guarantee of collective defense.

Germany's armed forces.

The Suwalki Corridor is a sparsely populated area on the border between Lithuania and Poland, through which the Baltic states are connected to the rest of the E.U. The strip of land serves as the shortest transportation route between Belarus and the Kaliningrad exclave of the Russian Federation.



SOF stands for Special Operations Forces. These are elite special forces units in Russia, Ukraine, the United States, and other countries.

An artillery round is a more accurate term for artillery munitions, commonly referred to as shells — it typically consists of the projectile (shell) itself, the propellant charge providing the initial velocity to the projectile, and the casing that holds these two elements together.

Adding fuel to the fire are the shocking statements of Donald Trump, who openly declared that he would encourage Russia to engage in aggressive actions

At the recently concluded Munich Security Conference, there was a general consensus that the order established after 1991 is not merely being challenged, but has effectively ceased to exist. The nature of the new order remains uncertain. While last year's conference emphasized transatlantic unity through the unequivocal support of Ukraine's war efforts, this year's participants are primarily characterized by a sense of uncertainty.

Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk's comparison of the current era to a “pre-war” period, one replacing the “post-war era,” draws clear parallels to the lead-up to World War II. The current international landscape echoes the tumultuous 1930s, when the world faced multiple simultaneous conflicts and crises across a range of continents — Germany and her allies’ expansion in Europe and Africa, coupled with the Japanese invasion of China then. Today, hot wars in Ukraine and the Middle East present a similar pattern. Meanwhile, the institutions meant to maintain stability — the League of Nations then, the United Nations today — have proven incapable of ending the conflicts.

According to Ursula von der Leyen, while a war in Europe is not imminent, it is no longer inconceivable. The pressing question, posed by experts and journalists alike, is whether Europe is prepared to defend itself against Russian aggression without the direct assistance of the United States.

Scholz, Macron, where's the ammunition?

Over the past 30 years, European countries have significantly reduced military spending, downsized their armies, widely abandoned conscription, and scrapped or sold to third countries massive volumes of military equipment and weaponry. The end of the Cold War freed up colossal resources: all armies worldwide (not just European ones) underwent similar processes of downsizing and reorientation towards counterinsurgency and humanitarian missions, as the likelihood of a major war between states was deemed negligible.

According to McKinsey estimates, Europeans saved between $1.6 trillion (if measured against the NATO-mandated minimum of 2% of GDP) and $8.6 trillion (if compared to average spending from 1960 to 1992) on defense from 1992 to 2022. This is broadly referred to as the “peace dividend” — when expenditures previously allocated to the defense sector are reduced, they can be redirected to other needs, such as healthcare and education.

Germany's armed forces.

The Suwalki Corridor is a sparsely populated area on the border between Lithuania and Poland, through which the Baltic states are connected to the rest of the E.U. The strip of land serves as the shortest transportation route between Belarus and the Kaliningrad exclave of the Russian Federation.



SOF stands for Special Operations Forces. These are elite special forces units in Russia, Ukraine, the United States, and other countries.

An artillery round is a more accurate term for artillery munitions, commonly referred to as shells — it typically consists of the projectile (shell) itself, the propellant charge providing the initial velocity to the projectile, and the casing that holds these two elements together.

McKinsey & Company
McKinsey & Company

For Germany, which boasted the strongest army in Europe in the late 1980s, the underfunding of defense is estimated at €394 billion. It's no wonder that in some areas, particularly in digitalization and the development of secure communication systems, the Bundeswehr remains at a level similar to where it was three decades ago. Hard as it may be to believe, the use of fax machines for transmitting orders and for paper-based document management is still prevalent.

The size and capability of European armed forces across various branches and types of military equipment were reduced several times over in the 30 years from 1992-2022. More expensive and effective, yet much less numerous “low-volume” platforms replaced decommissioned models. In particular, the number of tanks in service among leading countries (Germany, France, the United Kingdom, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Spain, and Turkey) has decreased from 18,941 to 4,362, fighter jets from 3,660 to 1,586, major surface warships from 180 to 109, and submarines from 107 to 57.

Germany's armed forces.

The Suwalki Corridor is a sparsely populated area on the border between Lithuania and Poland, through which the Baltic states are connected to the rest of the E.U. The strip of land serves as the shortest transportation route between Belarus and the Kaliningrad exclave of the Russian Federation.



SOF stands for Special Operations Forces. These are elite special forces units in Russia, Ukraine, the United States, and other countries.

An artillery round is a more accurate term for artillery munitions, commonly referred to as shells — it typically consists of the projectile (shell) itself, the propellant charge providing the initial velocity to the projectile, and the casing that holds these two elements together.

McKinsey & Company
McKinsey & Company

The decommissioning of Cold War-era equipment and the slow replacement of older systems with high-tech gear have combined to ensure that outdated weaponry still dominates the overall composition of armed forces. In Europe, approximately 50% of ground equipment was introduced before 1990 or is based on technologies and solutions developed at that time; for air forces, the figure is around 35%; for navies, it is estimated at between 40-50%. Furthermore, even existing equipment is often not maintained properly. Consider the episode in which it took millions of Euros and several months to repair six Spanish Leopard 2 tanks before sending them to Ukraine. Needless to say, the readiness levels of available military equipment and weaponry in Europe do not strike fear in the hearts of potential enemies.

Germany's armed forces.

The Suwalki Corridor is a sparsely populated area on the border between Lithuania and Poland, through which the Baltic states are connected to the rest of the E.U. The strip of land serves as the shortest transportation route between Belarus and the Kaliningrad exclave of the Russian Federation.



SOF stands for Special Operations Forces. These are elite special forces units in Russia, Ukraine, the United States, and other countries.

An artillery round is a more accurate term for artillery munitions, commonly referred to as shells — it typically consists of the projectile (shell) itself, the propellant charge providing the initial velocity to the projectile, and the casing that holds these two elements together.

McKinsey & Company
McKinsey & Company

Reductions have also impacted the size of armed forces. In 1991, nearly 1 million NATO soldiers were stationed in Central and Northern Europe alone. By the end of the 2010s, that number was below 400,000. Although the total number of armed forces personnel in European NATO member countries stands at just under 2 million, Turkey accounts for 460,000 of these. France, with only 200,000 active duty personnel, fields the largest army on the continent.

As a result, European militaries are often referred to as “bonsai armies,” miniature versions of genuine forces. This approach was logical within the concept that assigned continental armed forces a supporting role in containing conflicts with the expectation that swift U.S. intervention was on the way. But given Trump’s campaign rhetoric, European NATO members have been forced to reevaluate that conceptual framework.

Since 1990, the vast European defense industry has also been consistently downsized, losing some of its crucial capabilities. For instance, since 2008, Europe has essentially had only one production line for modern main battle tanks — that of the German Leopard 2. As of February 2023, the manufacturing capacities of all EU countries could produce only an estimated 230,000 artillery munitions per year — roughly the monthly consumption rate during the war in Ukraine. France is currently capable of producing only 2,000 artillery rounds per month and, though it is planning to increase production to 3,000 units. In the context of the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, this quantity would only suffice for one day of combat operations with maximum ammunition conservation.

Germany's armed forces.

The Suwalki Corridor is a sparsely populated area on the border between Lithuania and Poland, through which the Baltic states are connected to the rest of the E.U. The strip of land serves as the shortest transportation route between Belarus and the Kaliningrad exclave of the Russian Federation.



SOF stands for Special Operations Forces. These are elite special forces units in Russia, Ukraine, the United States, and other countries.

An artillery round is a more accurate term for artillery munitions, commonly referred to as shells — it typically consists of the projectile (shell) itself, the propellant charge providing the initial velocity to the projectile, and the casing that holds these two elements together.

Since 1990, the vast European defense industry has also consistently downsized, effectively losing some crucial capabilities

It's no wonder that E.U. countries failed to fulfill their promise to deliver 1 million artillery munitions to the Ukrainian Armed Forces by March 2024. During almost two years of war, they managed to send only 300,000 155mm caliber rounds. According to some estimates, at the peak of artillery fire intensity during the offensive in Donbass in the summer of 2022, the Russian Armed Forces was using more artillery ammunition in two days than the British Army held in its entire stockpile. Similarly, the Bundeswehr likely has ammunition reserves capable of lasting for just two days of combat operations.

Is Europe prepared for war?

Despite Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, NATO countries (excluding the U.S.) only increased their collective defense spending by 2% in 2022 and by 8.3% in 2023 (both figures are estimates). Just 11 out of 31 member nations meet the requirement to allocate at least 2% of GDP to defense (in constant 2015 prices). Although Germany announced a significant overhaul of its defense policy in February 2022, the €100 billion earmarked for modernizing its armed forces has yet to be allocated. Germany's defense spending in 2023 is projected to be a mere 1.2% of GDP.

As it stands, Europe appears ill-equipped for a classical war demanding substantial quantities of equipment and ammunition. In the absence of direct U.S. participation, European nations would find themselves vulnerable, particularly in unconventional conflicts such as nuclear confrontations. The European nuclear powers, France and the United Kingdom, jointly possess only 500 warheads, a fraction of the Russian arsenal.

On the other hand, France’s historical nuclear doctrine did not focus on using the limited number of special munitions on the battlefield. Instead, it centered on the threat of targeting Soviet cities to deter the USSR from attacking France. However, pertinent questions arise about how effective this strategy might prove in safeguarding not just French, but also “pan-European” interests. The Economist, in discussing the European nuclear doctrine, provocatively questions whether President Emmanuel Macron is prepared to “sacrifice Toulouse to defend Tallinn.”

Defense policy shift

It cannot be said that Europe is unaware of the seriousness of the current situation. Before our eyes, long-standing trends are being upended: industrial warfare has returned to the European continent; a large-scale conflict with Russia, once a hypothetical threat, has become a very real possibility; and NATO has finally found new relevance following the disappearance of its erstwhile adversary, the Warsaw Pact.

In June 2022, Russia was identified for the first time as the most significant and direct threat in the Alliance’s strategic concept. By 2024, it is forecasted that the collective military expenditures of European NATO members will indeed reach that critical 2% of GDP threshold ($380 billion).

Germany's armed forces.

The Suwalki Corridor is a sparsely populated area on the border between Lithuania and Poland, through which the Baltic states are connected to the rest of the E.U. The strip of land serves as the shortest transportation route between Belarus and the Kaliningrad exclave of the Russian Federation.



SOF stands for Special Operations Forces. These are elite special forces units in Russia, Ukraine, the United States, and other countries.

An artillery round is a more accurate term for artillery munitions, commonly referred to as shells — it typically consists of the projectile (shell) itself, the propellant charge providing the initial velocity to the projectile, and the casing that holds these two elements together.

Russia was identified for the first time as the most significant and direct threat to NATO

According to McKinsey's assessment, the total increase in military spending in Europe from 2022 to 2028 will amount to $700–800 billion. The combined orders of the seven largest European defense contractors reached $300 billion by the end of 2023. It is expected that by 2025, the production volume of 155mm artillery shells will increase to 1.25 million annually.

Germany's armed forces.

The Suwalki Corridor is a sparsely populated area on the border between Lithuania and Poland, through which the Baltic states are connected to the rest of the E.U. The strip of land serves as the shortest transportation route between Belarus and the Kaliningrad exclave of the Russian Federation.



SOF stands for Special Operations Forces. These are elite special forces units in Russia, Ukraine, the United States, and other countries.

An artillery round is a more accurate term for artillery munitions, commonly referred to as shells — it typically consists of the projectile (shell) itself, the propellant charge providing the initial velocity to the projectile, and the casing that holds these two elements together.

Rheinmetall CEO Armin Papperger, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, and Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen at the groundbreaking ceremony for a new ammunition production plant on February 12, 2024.
Rheinmetall CEO Armin Papperger, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, and Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen at the groundbreaking ceremony for a new ammunition production plant on February 12, 2024.
AFP

The European Commission has presented the organization’s first-ever defense strategy. According to the draft document, by 2030, E.U. member states will spend a minimum of half of their military expenditures on purchases within the union, with this figure set to increase to 60% by 2035. Additionally, there are plans to conduct at least 40% of defense procurement collectively by 2030.

Still, the size of armed forces, the serviceability of military equipment, and the level of defense spending are not the only variables to consider. In the event of a full-scale conflict, the resilience of critical infrastructure (including digital infrastructure), the readiness of the transportation network, and the willingness of divers populations to support the war effort, will be equally if not more crucial. Discussions at the Munich Security Conference also touched upon the creation of a “European dimension of NATO” in the event the U.S. indeed withdraws from defense commitments.

The likelihood of conflict in Europe

As long as the Russian army remains engaged in its conflict with Ukraine, the prospect of a new war, particularly involving a NATO member, seems remote. Nevertheless, some Western experts and policymakers operate under the assumption that although Russian ground forces have suffered significant losses in Ukraine, their air and naval forces retain considerable combat capabilities. And of course, the Russian nuclear arsenal remains as strong as it was in February 2022.

The Kremlin's somewhat credulously received assertions regarding unprecedented growth in the defense sector and exceptional rates of volunteer recruitment contribute to the prevailing sense of threat over Europe. Notably, claims of annual production of 4 million artillery shells and the enlistment of 400,000 contractors without the need for mobilization underscore this concern, even if the actual numbers are likely somewhat less than Moscow says they are.

Concurrently, European nations have significantly depleted their stocks of armaments, transferring a substantial amount of equipment not only from storage but also directly from their national armed forces. According to Armin Papperger, CEO of Rheinmetall, Europe faces a decade-long task to restore its stockpiles to pre-Ukraine war levels. This situation could potentially be seen by Moscow as a “window of opportunity,” particularly if there are doubts raised about the willingness of the U.S. to defend its European allies.

Germany's armed forces.

The Suwalki Corridor is a sparsely populated area on the border between Lithuania and Poland, through which the Baltic states are connected to the rest of the E.U. The strip of land serves as the shortest transportation route between Belarus and the Kaliningrad exclave of the Russian Federation.



SOF stands for Special Operations Forces. These are elite special forces units in Russia, Ukraine, the United States, and other countries.

An artillery round is a more accurate term for artillery munitions, commonly referred to as shells — it typically consists of the projectile (shell) itself, the propellant charge providing the initial velocity to the projectile, and the casing that holds these two elements together.

Europe faces a decade-long task to restore its stockpiles to pre-Ukraine war levels

The potential scenarios for a future conflict instigated by Russia include:

  • An attempt to attack the Suwalki Corridor, which separates the Kaliningrad region of the Russian Federation from the territory of Belarus.
  • An assault (not necessarily purely military; hybrid options are also feasible) on one of the Baltic nations to assess the Alliance's willingness to confront one of the world’s two major nuclear powers (a comparison with the pre-World War II slogan “Why die for Danzig?” is apt).
  • An attack or provocation on the border with Finland (such as the threat of an orchestrated influx of migrants).

The likelihood of one of these scenarios unfolding is heightened by the uncertainty surrounding Ukraine's long-term financing, along with doubts about the preservation of Euro-Atlantic unity in the event that Donald Trump returns to power in Washington.

Since 2014, the Kremlin has consistently escalated tensions through its foreign policy: annexing Crimea and invading Donbas, intervening in Syria's civil war, forging closer ties with Iran, and embarking on a full-scale invasion of Ukraine. It has firmly aligned itself with the “axis of evil,” alongside Iran and North Korea. In this context, an attack on a NATO member state could appear logical to decision makers in Moscow, particularly if they anticipate that, given the risk of nuclear exchange, Brussels would prefer a negotiation to an actual shooting war.

Germany's armed forces.

The Suwalki Corridor is a sparsely populated area on the border between Lithuania and Poland, through which the Baltic states are connected to the rest of the E.U. The strip of land serves as the shortest transportation route between Belarus and the Kaliningrad exclave of the Russian Federation.



SOF stands for Special Operations Forces. These are elite special forces units in Russia, Ukraine, the United States, and other countries.

An artillery round is a more accurate term for artillery munitions, commonly referred to as shells — it typically consists of the projectile (shell) itself, the propellant charge providing the initial velocity to the projectile, and the casing that holds these two elements together.

Russian Zapad-2021 military exercises, September 2021
Russian Zapad-2021 military exercises, September 2021
TASS

But Moscow does not hold all the cards. The health of the Russian economy is far from good, with analysis suggesting that the reported staggering increase in defense production in Russia has been greatly exaggerated. The substantial growth in the military-industrial complex is not corroborated by indirect indicators such as the production of chemical goods, metals, electricity consumption, railway freight, and other metrics. While there is undoubtedly an increase, it is not as significant as claimed.

The collective defense budget of NATO countries for 2023 was estimated at $1.1 trillion — and even if the U.S. is excluded, the total is still $356 billion. European NATO members alone allocated $347 billion for defense in 2023, which rose to $380 billion for 2024. This allocation is twice the amount of Russian military expenditures in 2023, which were estimated (due to their mostly classified nature) to be at least 13.4 trillion rubles (approximately $150 billion at the current exchange rate). Between 2019 and 2021, defense spending ranged from 3.0 to 3.6 trillion rubles, escalating to 8.4 trillion rubles in 2022. Plans for 2024 indicate even higher figures at 14.7 trillion rubles (approximately $160 billion at the current exchange rate).

For Russia, sustaining military expenditure at more than 40% of the total federal budget and 6% of the national GDP over an extended period seems highly improbable. Indeed, President Putin himself openly asserts that the West will not be able to “replicate the trick of the 1980s” and draw Russia into an arms race.

Germany's armed forces.

The Suwalki Corridor is a sparsely populated area on the border between Lithuania and Poland, through which the Baltic states are connected to the rest of the E.U. The strip of land serves as the shortest transportation route between Belarus and the Kaliningrad exclave of the Russian Federation.



SOF stands for Special Operations Forces. These are elite special forces units in Russia, Ukraine, the United States, and other countries.

An artillery round is a more accurate term for artillery munitions, commonly referred to as shells — it typically consists of the projectile (shell) itself, the propellant charge providing the initial velocity to the projectile, and the casing that holds these two elements together.

It will be difficult for Russia to sustain military expenditure at more than 40% of the total federal budget and 6% of the national GDP over an extended period

And when it comes to Russia's Armed Forces, experts like Pavel Luzin, a research fellow at the Fletcher School of Tufts University (U.S.), suggest that the military apparatus under Putin's leadership is experiencing both organizational and material-technical degradation. According to certain assessments, Russia is projected to reach the peak of its military capabilities in the period 2024-2025. Consequently, if the Ukrainian Armed Forces, supported by allies, manage to hold out for another year or two, Russia’s decline could trigger a significant long-term shift in the balance of power. Russia may find itself largely depleted in its ability to deploy equipment from storage, while the West would likely see a considerable uptick in the production of new equipment and ammunition.

In essence, these indicators point not to an increase in Russia's military strength, but rather to its gradual depletion. Naturally, this doesn't rule out the possibility that the Kremlin could nevertheless instigate a new military conflict in Europe — its aggression against Ukraine underscores the unpredictability of the decision makers in Moscow. However, there are few tangible indicators arguing in favor of embarking on such a scenario, and even less likelihood of Russia achieving significant foreign policy aims through military means.

The pivotal question revolves around the outcome of the ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict. It is plausible that new “special operations” in Central and Eastern Europe would only materialize if the Kremlin were to decisively prevail in Ukraine. This outcome appears probable only in the event that Kyiv’s allies fail to provide sufficient military support. Should the Ukrainian Armed Forces hold their ground in 2024, Russia would likely be forced into a defensive posture, effectively precluding any prospect of further military engagements.

Germany's armed forces.

The Suwalki Corridor is a sparsely populated area on the border between Lithuania and Poland, through which the Baltic states are connected to the rest of the E.U. The strip of land serves as the shortest transportation route between Belarus and the Kaliningrad exclave of the Russian Federation.



SOF stands for Special Operations Forces. These are elite special forces units in Russia, Ukraine, the United States, and other countries.

An artillery round is a more accurate term for artillery munitions, commonly referred to as shells — it typically consists of the projectile (shell) itself, the propellant charge providing the initial velocity to the projectile, and the casing that holds these two elements together.

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