Netherlands should prepare for war with Russia – army chief
The Netherlands should urgently get ready to face a security challenge posed by an “increasingly assertive” Russia, the nation’s Land Forces commander, Lieutenant General Martin Wijnen, said on Thursday. The EU nation should strengthen its military and help society adapt to the potential hardships of war, he added.
The general claimed that Moscow has designs on the Baltic States, three former Soviet republics which have joined NATO and the EU, after it is done with Ukraine.
“The Netherlands should not think that [its] safety is guaranteed just because we are 1,500 kilometers away,” Wijnen warned, adding that “Russia is getting stronger.”
Wijnen told De Telegraaf newspaper on Thursday that the Netherlands “must work on [its] operational readiness, ensure that we have enough deterrence to deprive any adversary of the courage to [attack] us.”
He also claimed that “there is only one language that Russia understands,” and that is the one “of robust Armed Forces.”
The general, who has led the Royal Netherlands Army since 2019, also described the Dutch military as “crippled by budget cuts,” according to De Telegraaf. The Netherlands, which abolished conscription back in 1997, is now facing a “glaring personnel shortage,” the paper said.
Wijnen spoke about the need to increase the army's size and warned that it could not afford to take any battle casualties.
“If we start to suffer losses, who will replenish them?” the general asked. “We used to have options for that, but not anymore,” he added, noting that the Dutch would not get a choice on whether to fight or not in case of an “imposed conflict.”
“The Netherlands must learn again that the entire society must be ready when things go wrong,” Wijnen said.
While his words do not mean that everyone would have to “wear a helmet tomorrow,” the Dutch people have become “too accustomed to the idea that there is always peace,” the army chief added.
The Dutch military is currently running a campaign called “service year,” which encourages young people to enlist in the army voluntarily for 12 months. According to Wijnen, the idea has supposedly been a huge success, though he admitted that only around 600 people joined the program this year, when “that should be between two and three thousand.”
Wijnen also urged Dutch society to improve its “resilience,” storing “supplies, food and drinking water” in basements so it could “take the blow” when the time comes. Dutch companies should also be ready to provide for the needs of the military if the need arises, he added.
The Netherlands has been one of the most ardent supporters of Kiev in its ongoing conflict with Moscow. The EU state was one of the few countries to pledge the delivery of US-made F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine. Earlier this month, Prime Minister Mark Rutte announced that his government has started preparations for the delivery of the first 18 planes to Kiev.
The US, which is by far Ukraine’s biggest single military aid donor, has long been reluctant to supply Ukraine with Western-made fighter jets. Washington only gave permission for Ukrainian pilots to train on F-16 jets and signaled that it was ready to approve a third-party transfer of the aircraft to Kiev this summer, adding that the training should be completed first.
Moscow has never mentioned any plans to attack any NATO nations. It has only repeatedly warned that continued military supplies by the US and its allies to Kiev make them de facto parties to the conflict and increase the risk of a direct confrontation between Russia and the US-led military bloc.