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Russia could ‘wash away’ Europe’s muddled armed forces

European armed forces are not prepared for a war with Russia and are in danger of being “washed away” by Putin’s power, a top military historian has warned.

Professor of military history at Potsdam University Sönke Neitzel said it could take over a decade before Germany was ready for war.


It comes as several German generals suggested that Nato might be unable to win the “first battle” in a defensive war on its eastern flank.

They said would struggle to ship sufficient numbers of troops and equipment to the front line quickly enough.

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Professor Neitzel told the Berlin Security Conference: “We need more money. We need more personnel. And there are limits in politics.

“We can’t exclude that the Bundeswehr [German armed forces] will have to fight. We are going to stand by the coffins at the soldiers’ graves and we are going to be asked: ‘What have you done?’

“We will have to explain to the mothers and the fathers why the soldiers could not fulfil their jobs. And at the moment we can only die gallantly if there’s a war.

“It’s very clear: if our armed forces are going to fight, they will die without drones, air defences, without enough supplies. Are we now clear enough on our message [to Germany’s leaders]? They are going to die and it’s your responsibility.”

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Professor of military history at Potsdam University Sönke Neitzel said it could take over a decade before Germany was ready for war.Getty
A German soldier

The German Armed Forces Bundeswehr is in decline according to Professor Neitzel

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Professor Neitzel pointed out that troop numbers were in decline and fell at least 30,000 short of the 203,000 target strength.

He added the country needs another 60,000 reservists in addition to the 34,000 it already has.

German defence minister Boris Pistorius, has called for Germany to become “kriegstüchtig” (capable of war).

The term has proved provocative in Germany, where 71 per cent of voters reject the state’s new aim to assume a “leadership role” in the defence of Europe.

German defence minister Boris Pistorius

German defence minister Boris Pistorius

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On Thursday he told the conference that the idea of creating a European army was “off the table”.

Professor Neitzel added that senior figures in Nato were increasingly pessimistic about Ukraine’s chances of winning back significant territory from Russia.

It comes after the failure of its summer counteroffensive, and contemplating a plan for the unoccupied parts of the country to be admitted into the alliance.

He added he had despaired at the way various allied states still had mutually incompatible ammunition after a visit to Nato HQ.

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