Thursday, September 04, 2014

What Are the Germans Thinking?

Germany doesn't want to move NATO forces into the Baltic states and Poland because it would violate the agreement with Russia not to do so? Excuse me? Crimea? Eastern Ukraine?

This German reasoning is insane:

While the request from Poland, Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia will be on the agenda at the summit in Wales, European heavyweight Germany and other members strongly oppose it. They argue that it would violate a 1997 agreement with Russia in which NATO pledges not to put "substantial combat forces" in central and eastern Europe.

One, I'd say that invading a European country pretty much invalidates that agreement:

The Founding Act was signed in 1997, after the Soviet Union collapsed and NATO and a democratizing Russia were seeking a partnership. The agreement states that the two sides "do not consider each other as adversaries" and would work for lasting peace. They vow not to use force against each other or to violate the territorial integrity or independence of any other state.

Two, who in the world thinks that any force NATO puts in eastern NATO would be a "substantial" combat force? If NATO agreed to put a couple brigades in the region, I'll be surprised. I believe Germany's invasion of the USSR in 1941 was carried out by about 200 German and allied divisions, if memory serves me. Two brigades (not even 2/3 of a division) is not substantial.

The Poles suspect German commercial interests drive their opposition.

I wonder if German military deterioration plays a part? Germany's military is tiny and maybe they can't put a decent ground unit into eastern NATO without making it obvious that Germany's military is nothing to fear.

Of course, in Germany's favor, the Germans just say they don't want permanent forces "for the moment" in order to make it easier for Putin to back down over Ukraine.

Which assumes Putin has any interest in backing down. Putin probably has a reason to back down--his military's weaknesses--so I don't dismiss Germany's motive.

For the moment, prepositioned equipment looks like it will pass muster. And NATO will rotate troops through the region rather than permanently stationing them there.

And the new and improved NATO Response Force, of a ground brigade and supporting air and naval assets, of course.