Many Europeans have been concerned about the start of the North Atlantic alliance’s (NATO) biggest military maneuver of the past three decades – Defender Europe 2020 – on the European continent near the Russian border. The Corona-crisis has required some corrections in the military exercises, which had to be significantly reduced. It follows that one disaster (dangerous maneuvers) was contained by another disaster (spread of an infection).
However, it would be a mistake to underestimate the contribution of European and, above all, German peace activists to the fight against military manoeuvres designed to imitate the invasion of Russian territory. In this sense, it is difficult not to agree with the Left member of the Bundestag Andrej Hunko when he assesses the facts:
“Defender 2020 was planned as the largest U.S. maneuver after the end of the Cold War and was intended to ‘practice’a war with Russia. The German peace movement has prepared itself for protests against the maneuver in many places. The party DIE LINKE has also followed it critically from the beginning.
The resistance was large and well-mobilized. We also held events in Aachen (most recently on March 6) and planned protests. But then the maneuver was suspended because of the corona pandemic – and so were the protests. In eastern Europe, however, there are still reduced exercises under Defender 2020.
The peace movement remains very vigilant and is preparing for the maneuver to be carried out in the coming year or later. It has also been announced that similar maneuvers will take place regularly. We will defend ourselves against this and advocate a peaceful foreign policy, cooperation and dialogue”.
The Russian leadership naturally perceives NATO’s extensive military maneuvers as a challenge and a threat. That is why the Foreign Minister of Russia, Sergei Lavrov. already on 4 February Defender Europe commented as follows:
“Those who provoke such totally unjustified military exercises want us to take countermeasures so that tensions continue to be fueled.”
A pan-European peace movement
Against this tension of the situation, German peace activists have appeared organized in Bremerhaven, Lüdenscheid, Cottbus; actions are planned in Aachen, Berlin, Dresden, Potsdam. The left offers political support to refrain from provocations against Russia, which does not threaten Europe at all in military terms.
However, NATO’s reduced military maneuvers continue in Poland and the Baltic states. It is also interesting that NATO remains active on the Black Sea – in mid-April, the alliance’s ships, which represented Turkey, Italy, Romania, Bulgaria and Canada, entered Georgian territorial waters and carried out joint maneuvers with the Georgian coast guard – despite the corona pandemic.
In contrast to Germany, peace movements in the Eastern European states have not yet strengthened enough and, more importantly, they have not yet fully realized how dangerous NATO’s games of intrigue are. It is therefore advisable for individual peace activists and organisations in western and Eastern European states to establish contacts with each other and to act as a common Front in the future, in the spirit of the unity of European peoples, including the Russian people.
One has to know that NATO has invested a lot in the Eastern European countries: it operates information points, finances various projects and presents it as if the security of these countries depends entirely on the alliance. But it is a fact that the constant tension of the military situation at the borders with Russia creates threats rather than ensuring security.
Therefore, it seems indispensable to work with the population of Eastern European countries and to coordinate the measures between the advocates of peaceful politics. Such advocates actually exist in each of these countries, but you don’t always hear them. It would make perfect sense if the German party DIE LINKE took the Initiative of a pan-European peace movement.