With Donald Trump threatening to pull back US support, NATO countries grow anxious over forecasts that Russia could rebuild and invade alliance territory within coming years, the New York Times reported.
“We have always kind of suspected that this is the only existential threat that we have,” Maj. Gen. Veiko-Vello Palm, Estonia’s land forces commander, told the NYT. According to Palm, many NATO militaries are not ready to fight Russia.
NATO has worked to revitalize Europe’s military capacity since 2014, when Russia first invaded Ukraine. But the progress made could still leave allies unprepared. “So it’s not very comforting,” General Palm said.
As NATO stages its biggest exercises since the Cold War, anxiety simmers that the drills ready forces for imminent attacks. “We have to realize it’s not a given we are in peace,” said NATO Military Committee chairman Rob Bauer.
Analysts say Russia could rearm within years of the Russo-Ukrainian war conclusion. “Just because it got all chewed up in Ukraine doesn’t mean they’re off the board for a decade or more,” said Atlantic Council’s Christopher Skaluba.
Norway’s top commander echoed the distress of being “short on time” before unpredictable Russia’s attack. “There is a window now that will perhaps last for one, two, maybe three years, where we will have to invest even more in a secure defense,” General Eirik Kristoffersen warned.
This rapid timeline, combined with wavering US support if Trump returns to power, leaves European allies bracing for earlier aggression. “If anyone thinks this is only about Ukraine, they’re fundamentally mistaken,” President Zelenskyy warned at the World Economic Forum this month. “Possible directions and even a timeline of a new Russian aggression beyond Ukraine become more and more obvious.”
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