Dutch Admiral Rob Bauer, the head of NATO's military committee, raised fears for European security with his increasingly dire warnings about the future. The war in Ukraine has been going on for a long time, and Bauer claims that difficult days for Europe are yet to come, where everything from an escalation of the conflict to a full-scale war with Russia is a very certain possibility.
Russia's invasion of Ukraine, once dismissed as a regional affair in 2014, shattered the illusion of stability and exposed the fragility of European security. "NATO members must adapt from the Russian invasion in 2022 to an era in which anything can happen at any time, an era in which we must expect the unexpected, in which we must focus on efficiency to be truly effective," he said.
It urges member states to adapt their militaries, economies and societies to meet the ever-evolving threat. This requires not only increased spending on defense and the deployment of troops, but also a fundamental change in the way of thinking of Western people because the majority of young people are not ready to fight for their country.
The public and private sector must accept the reality of constant vigilance, readiness to respond to the unexpected at any moment. His statements are not mere speculation. Bauer points to the very real possibility that Russia will expand its aggression beyond the borders of Ukraine, potentially targeting NATO members.
"That's why it's important that they don't win this war and that we stop that ambition. We must prepare for self-defense. If you are prepared for war, the chances of keeping the peace are much higher than if you are not. "I'm not saying that it will happen tomorrow, but we have to better prepare for war with Russia," said Bauer.
Bauer's advice to soon-to-be NATO members of Sweden to stock up on basic supplies—water, flashlights, radios—speaks volumes about the potential seriousness of the situation. It is a sobering reminder that peace can be fleeting.
He is a Dutch four-star admiral in the Royal Netherlands Navy. He graduated from the Royal Naval College in 1981 and then joined the Royal Netherlands Navy. Since June 2021, he has been the chairman of the NATO Military Committee after succeeding Air Chief Marshal Stuart Peach.
His efforts to strengthen NATO's eastern flank, expand the rapid reaction force and speed up the accession of Finland and Sweden have caused incredible reactions around the world, including in Russia. He understands that strength, not fear, is the most effective way to counter Russian aggression. The West must heed his call for vigilance, for the cost of unpreparedness in this new era could be dire indeed.