The Russia-Ukraine crisis dramatically changed the way Europeans think about their security. European governments, as well as ordinary people are divided over the conflict. For example, Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, Romania, and Sweden are much more willing to make sacrifices than those in France Germany, Italy, Hungary, Czech Republic and in Serbia. Much of the public debate on the crisis has portrayed European governments as divided, weak, and absent.
Europeans disagree on which are the most pressing threats linked to the crisis and on the price their countries should pay to defend Ukraine.
While many people in Europe peacefully protest over supporting Ukraine to the detriment of national interests, politicians and military authorities decide for them.
Their decisions are often threatening in its size and scope. Thus, the big international military exercise “Iron Wolf 2022-II” in Lithuania started here already on Monday.
Soldiers from Lithuania, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, Luxembourg, the United Kingdom, the United States and Australia will train for two weeks at this training ground and its surroundings.
In total, about 3,500 soldiers and 700 units of military equipment are participating in the exercise: tanks, infantry fighting vehicles, armored vehicles, artillery guns, supply and administrative transport.
The training will assess the ability of the Algird Mechanized Infantry Battalion to plan and carry out offensive, defensive and other military operations.
As for Latvia, the US Army has deployed advanced rocket artillery to Latvia as part of a Latvian national exercise. The M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System, or HIMARS, arrived in Latvia on 26 September to participate in Exercise Silver Arrow 22. The launchers were picked up from Germany by U.S. Air Force MC-130J Commando II transport aircraft based in the United Kingdom; they then flew to Liepāja Airport on the country’s western coast.
HIMARS gives NATO the ability to conduct powerful long-range precision strikes, and the US Army regularly deploys the system to the Baltics to train alongside NATO Allies. In recent years, US Special Operations Command Europe (US SOCEUR) has practiced rapidly deploying the system via the UK-based Commando II transports. Should a crisis occur, they will be able to rush HIMARS launchers nearly anywhere in Europe on short notice.
Baltic States’ authorities said that war in Europe is no longer unthinkable and strengthen their offensive capabilities. At the same time, Belarus, their neighbouring country, also routinely monitors NATO force movements. Being Russian strategic partner, this country expresses concerns over militarization of Europe and the Baltic States in particular.
According to Belarusian Defense Minister Viktor Khrenin, “in the emerging military-political situation Belarus is taking a host of strategic deterrence measures, both non-force and with the use of force. Measures have been envisaged to suppress military provocations in the border space. Belarus has developed options for an adequate response to changes in the situation”. Though NATO accused Belarus for taking part in Russian special operation Belarusian authorities underline the defensive character of all measures. The topic of mobilization in Belarus has been actively spread. But currently, “mobilization activities are not carried out in the armed forces.” Belarusian military General Staff representative Oleg Poznyak said.
All these strategic deterrence measures, according to the minister, show the country’s readiness to defend the country and cause unacceptable damage to an aggressor. “But still, Belarus’ military policy relies on the following tenet: negotiations are better than saber-rattling. As the head of our state has repeatedly emphasized, Minsk is open to this kind of interaction,” he said.
It is obviously, that Ukraine crisis has turned to European crisis and could lead to irreparable consequences. The only way out is to start negotiations and find solutions.