A confrontation is not inevitable but Berlin must nonetheless ramp up its defenses, Carsten Breuer has said
Germany should beef up its military to prepare for a potential conflict with Russia in five years’ time, Bundeswehr General Carsten Breuer has argued. He called for a “change in mentality” within German society, insisting that the nation needs to build credible deterrence.
In an interview with Welt am Sonntag published on Sunday, Breuer warned that Germany does not have “endless time” to become war-capable, claiming that the potential of a military confrontation with Moscow is at its highest since the end of the Cold War.
“If I follow the analysts and see what military threat potential comes from Russia, then it means five to eight years of preparation time for us,” he predicted.
Breuer, who serves as the Bundeswehr’s inspector general, claimed that “this doesn’t mean that there will be a war then. But it’s possible.”
The general also did not rule out the reintroduction of some form of mandatory military service in Germany. Breuer noted that the issue is still being discussed, but cited the “Swedish model,” which envisages mandatory military training for most citizens, who then become reservists.
Breuer’s comments come after German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius stated in November that the country must become “war-capable.” He insisted again in January that Berlin and the whole of NATO should arm itself more actively to be able to “wage a war that is forced upon us.”
However, the German defense chief noted last month that “at the moment, I don’t see any danger of a Russian attack on NATO territory or on any NATO partner-country.”
Also speaking in January, British Defense Secretary Grant Shapps claimed that “in five years’ time, we could be looking at multiple theaters [of conflict] including Russia, China, Iran, and North Korea.”
Elsewhere, Swedish Foreign Minister Tobias Billstrom stated last month that Stockholm “must be realistic and assume – and be prepared for – a drawn-out confrontation” with Moscow. Defense Minister Pal Jonson echoed that sentiment, saying that “war can also come to us.”
Commenting on claims that Russia might be planning an attack on NATO, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said in January that European officials were “inventing an external enemy” to divert attention from domestic problems.
The following day, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov stated at UN headquarters in New York that “no one wants a big war,” especially Moscow.
President Vladimir Putin has also repeatedly dismissed such speculation as “complete nonsense,” insisting that Moscow has “no geopolitical, economic… or military interest” in starting a conflict with NATO.