Boris Pistorius said the US, UK and EU ‘hear threats from the Kremlin almost every day… so we have to take into account that Vladimir Putin might even attack a NATO country one day’.
Pistorius told German outlet Der Tagesspiegel: ‘Our experts expect a period of five to eight years in which this could be possible.
‘We have to learn to live with danger again and prepare ourselves — militarily, socially and in terms of civil defence,’ he concluded, pointing to an alarming speech made by a Swedish minister earlier this month who called on his citizens to prepare themselves for conflict.
Meanwhile, Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas believes a Russia-NATO confrontation is even more imminent, giving a timeframe of just three to five years for Europe to prepare for a serious military threat on the alliance’s eastern flank.
The stark warnings from European leaders come just days after leaked documents from the German Ministry of Defence outlined a step-by-step doomsday guide on how Russia could escalate the conflict in Ukraine to an even bigger battle.
The leaked plans, published by German newspaper Bild, reveal in detail the path to a Third World War with Putin using Belarus as a launching pad for an invasion – as he did in February 2022 for his war in Ukraine.
A slew of top defence officials this week also signalled that NATO nations must begin preparing for a grand conflict with Russia, with an alliance admiral suggesting European countries may have to resort to conscription.
Russian T-72B3 tanks fire at Ukrainian fortified positions in Ukraine in undated footage
Pistorius told German outlet Der Tagesspiegel: ‘Our experts expect a period of five to eight years in which this could be possible.’ (German-made Leopard 2 tank is pictured)
Boris Pistorius said the US, UK and EU ‘hear threats from the Kremlin almost every day… so we have to take into account that Vladimir Putin might even attack a NATO country one day’
Russian President Vladimir Putin chairs a meeting with Russia’s Government members via video link in Moscow, on January 17, 2024
The chief of NATO’s Military Committee, Dutch Admiral Rob Bauer, called on public and private actors in the West to prepare for an era in which anything could happen at any time, including fighting a war.
Bauer said large numbers of civilians will need to be mobilised in case a global war breaks out and governments must make sure their nations are ‘war ready’.
‘We need a warfighting transformation of NATO,’ said as he opened a two-day meeting of national defence chiefs in Brussels.
He noted that in the past, NATO governments and companies lived in an era in which everything was plentiful, foreseeable, controllable, and focused on efficiency.
Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in 2022, they should adjust their thinking to ‘an era in which anything can happen at any time, an era in which we need to expect the unexpected, an era in which we need to focus on effectiveness in order to be fully effective’, he said.
Kevin Ryan, a retired US Army Brigadier General, agreed that the threat was real, adding that NATO ‘not getting ready’ could ‘invite’ a war.
Ryan told MailOnline: ‘Until recently it didn’t seem Russia could build an army good enough to enforce that demand. But if Russia continues to have success enlarging its force and ramping up military production then we need to get ready.
‘Getting ready could be enough to avert a wider war. Not getting ready could invite one,’ he concluded.
But Ben Hodges, who commanded the US Army in Europe between 2014 and 2018, stressed that the prospect of an all-out war would only happen if Russia sensed that NATO weren’t prepared or unified.
He said: ‘They [Russia] only respect strength. If they sense any weakness then they will continue to move forward.
‘If they did it, it would be because they made the assessment that we were not ready or unified inside the alliance or that we did not have adequate ammunition or the ability to move fast enough.
‘The UK has always been aware of the threat from Russia but now Germany are realising that this is something that’s only going to get worse if they’re not prepared.
He added: ‘If the civilian leadership doesn’t think there’s a threat, they won’t be able to move quickly enough. Our leaders should talk to us like adults. It doesn’t mean you’re a scaremongerer, it means you’re taking precaution, which is exactly what we should be doing.’
Taking note of the alarming prognoses, Britain’s Defence Secretary Grant Shapps announced that the UK will send 20,000 armed forces personnel to one of NATO’s largest exercises since the Cold War set to run through the month of May.
The deployment, which Shapps characterised as the UK’s biggest to NATO in four decades, is aimed at ‘providing vital reassurance’ over the ‘menace’ posed by Putin following his invasion of Ukraine, Shapps said.
The British personnel – from the Royal Air Force, Royal Navy and Army – will deploy across Europe and beyond for the military alliance’s latest ‘Exercise Steadfast Defender’, alongside personnel from 31 other member countries and Sweden, which is a candidate to join the transatlantic alliance.
The UK contingent will include fighter jets and surveillance aircraft, the navy’s most advanced warships and submarines, and a full range of army capabilities, including special operations forces.
London will send a so-called Carrier Strike Group – which features its flagship aircraft carrier and F-35B fighter jets and helicopters – to the exercises in the North Atlantic, Norwegian Sea and Baltic Sea.
Meanwhile some 16,000 soldiers will be deployed across eastern Europe from next month to June, taking with them tanks, artillery, helicopters and parachutes.
Utility workers repair water pipes outside a high-rise building destroyed following a Russian missile attack in central Kyiv, on January 3, 2024, amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine
Swedish Army armoured vehicles and tanks participate in a military exercise called ‘Cold Response 2022’, gathering around 30,000 troops from NATO member countries as well as Finland and Sweden, amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine
Ben Hodges, who commanded the US Army in Europe between 2014 and 2018, said the plans outlined by Germany demonstrate that they are taking the threat ‘seriously’
German defence documents outlined this scenario as a possible prelude to WW3
Germany is preparing for Vladimir Putin ‘s forces to attack NATO in 2025, according to leaked secret plans
Leaked documents suggest Germany’s defence leaders are indeed taking the threat from Moscow seriously, with the Bundeswehr preparing for a hybrid Russian attack on NATO’s eastern flank by the summer of 2025.
The secret ‘Alliance Defence 2025’ document details how Russia will mobilise another 200,000 soldiers in Russia before launching a spring offensive against Ukrainian forces in Spring this year.
Mr Hodges added that in its current state, he believes the Kremlin aren’t strong enough to gather the military and equipment they need to pursue an all-out war.
‘The Kremlin, right now, don’t have the ability’, he said. ‘But if we fail to help Ukraine then that could change. And then it’s a very real possibility’.
The leaked documents outline that by June, amid dwindling Western support and weaponry, Russia would achieve success on the battlefield and make significant advances through Ukraine.
Taking advantage of this success, Putin would in July launch cyber attacks in the Baltics at the same time as inciting violence in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania by claiming that ethnic Russian minorities are being targeted.
This tactic has already been used by Putin’s cronies to justify their attack on Ukraine in 2014 and again in 2022 when Russia launched its full-scale invasion.
Clashes would occur in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania as a result of Russia’s interference and Putin would use this as an excuse to launch a large-scale exercise with 50,000 Russian troops sent to Belarus and western Russia by September.
A month later, Putin would go one step further and move troops and medium-range missiles to the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad, which is nestled in between Poland and Lithuania.
The secret ‘Alliance Defence 2025’ document details how Russia will mobilise another 200,000 soldiers in Russia before launching a spring offensive against Ukrainian forces in Spring this year
Ukrainian soldiers on the frontline take part in a medical training in Donetsk Oblast, Ukraine on January 14
Russian and Belarusian tanks attend joint exercise on 21 February 2022 in Belarus – a day before Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine. According to leaked plans, Russia could use Belarus as a launching pad again – but this time to attack NATO allies
At the same time, Putin and his cronies would continue their sabre-rattling and claim that NATO is preparing to attack Russia and a threat to their national security.
The Kremlin would likely move to attack a narrow strip of land known as the Suwalki Gap.
Poland and Lithuania have fought for control of the area, but today it is part of Poland and is the only land border between mainland Europe and the Baltic States.
Even a small attack on the area – sandwiched between Poland, Lithuania and Kaliningrad – could cause huge problems for NATO and potentially spiral into a Third World War.
Fears of a Baltic invasion have risen since the Ukraine war began, and if Putin were to attempt it then blocking the Suwalki Gap would likely be his first move, as detailed in the leaked secret documents.
Though thousands of NATO troops, including UK soldiers, are currently deployed to the Baltics, they are only intended as a ‘tripwire’ force. Their role is to hold up any invading force until the main NATO army can arrive.
By December this year, Moscow would dispel fake propaganda about a border conflict and ‘riots with numerous deaths’ in the Suwalki Gap, according to the documents.
But Putin’s main aim will be to attack a narrow strip of land known as the Suwalki Gap. Poland and Lithuania have fought for control of the area, but today it is part of Poland and is the only land border between mainland Europe and the Baltic States
Russian and Belarusian rocket launchers attend joint exercise on 17 February 2022 in Belarus – a day before Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine. According to leaked plans, Russia could use Belarus as a launching pad again – but this time to attack NATO allies
A Ukrainian serviceman of 2 battalion 92nd brigade fires a 120-mm mortar towards Russian troops, amid Russia’s attack on Ukraine, at a position near Bakhmut in Donetsk region, Ukraine, on January 12
NATO troops during an exercise in Poland in May 2023
And taking advantage of the chaos that will ensue if President Joe Biden is defeated in the presidential elections with the US left without a leader for a few weeks, Putin would begin his attack on NATO soil.
Shortly afterwards, during an extraordinary meeting of the UN Security Council, Moscow accuses the West of preparing to attack Russia according to the documents.
According to the doomsday scenario, NATO would convene a special meeting in January 2025 at which Poland and the Baltic states report an increasing Russian threat and plead for help.
But Russia would take advantage of the choas and by March 2025, the Kremlin would move even more troops towards the Baltics and Belarus.
By the end of the month, Putin would have accumulated 70,000 soldiers as part of two tank divisions, mechanised infantry division and a division headquarters.
Two months later, in May 2025, NATO would reconvene again to discuss the mounting Russian threat to its security and decide on ‘measures for credible deterrence’ in an effort to stop any Russian attack on the Suwalki Gap from the direction of Belarus and Kaliningrad.
On an undisclosed date named ‘Day X’, NATO would deploy 300,000 soldiers – including 30,000 from Germany – to its eastern flank to defend against an impending Russian attack, according to the leaked documents.
It’s unclear from the documents if Russian would be deterred by the deployment of NATO forces as the scenario ends 30 days after Day X.
A German Ministry of Defence spokesperson told Bild they did not want to comment on the specific NATO defence scenario but said: ‘Basically, I can tell you that considering different scenarios, even if they are extremely unlikely, is part of everyday military business, especially in training.’
The release of the terrifying documents come just days after Sweden‘s civil defence minister warned that his country could soon face the prospect of war and urged citizens to join voluntary defence organisations in preparation for a Russian attack.