Washington Institute For Defence & SecurityWashington Institute For Defence & SecurityWashington Institute For Defence & Security
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Europe And NATO Face Escalating Tensions As Russian Invasion Fears Grow

The fall of the Soviet Union was often referred to as “the greatest geopolitical catastrophe of the 20th century” by Russian President Vladimir V. Putin. Not many people anticipated that he would take action in 2005. Then, however, followed Russia’s 2008 seizure of South Ossetia and Abkhazia from Georgia, its annexation of Crimea in 2014, its backing of rebels in Ukraine, and, most significantly, its full-scale invasion of Ukraine in 2022. Concern among European nations is growing that Mr. Putin may invade a NATO nation in the coming decade and that they may have to face its forces without U.S. support. This is due to the rise of former President Donald J. Trump, who has previously vowed to leave NATO and has recently threatened never to come to the aid of his allies.

NATO’s Response

The previous several years have also made it abundantly evident that many NATO militaries, that is, the alliance as a whole and many of its member nations are not prepared to engage in large-scale operations. “To combat Russia,” General Palm stated in a December interview. Thus, it’s not particularly comforting. States bordering Russia or in close proximity to it have long harbored fears about Mr. Putin’s imperial ambitions. General Palm humorously said, “I think for Estonia it was 1991,” alluding to the year Estonia declared its independence from the collapsing Soviet Union. That was when his country’s alarm bells started to sound. Moscow has dismissed worries that Russia is preparing an attack on NATO, just as Mr. Putin downplayed warnings from the Biden administration that he was plotting an invasion of Ukraine. In an interview with official news agency RIA Novosti last week, Sergei Naryshkin, the director of Russia’s foreign intelligence service, said that the agency was a part of a Western misinformation effort aimed at inciting unrest against Moscow.

Strategic Concerns

In addition to the massive increases in expenditure on the army and the arms sector, Putin’s militarization of the Russian economy and attempts by some Republicans in Congress to curtail US aid to Ukraine have further heightened Europe’s anxieties in recent months. This month at the World Economic Forum, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky issued a warning. If anyone thinks that this is only about Ukraine, they are fundamentally mistaken. It’s becoming more and more clear where new Russian aggression outside of Ukraine might go and even when. NATO asserts that all 31 of its members, who have raised their combined national military budget by an estimated $190 billion since Russia’s initial invasion of Ukraine in 2014, are ready to defend their borders. However, in the decades that followed the end of the Cold War, that was only the beginning of restoring what had turned into a hollowed-out military network throughout Europe. 

Economic and Energy Leverage

A month-long military practice involving 90,000 troops began last week, and according to authorities, it is the greatest exercise NATO has carried out since the end of the Cold War. The alliance will put its preparedness to the test. The Baltics and Nordic nations in particular are excited about the drill because it tests how NATO forces would react to a Russian invasion. The NATO Military Committee chairman, Adm. Rob Bauer of the Netherlands, said, “I’m not saying things will go wrong tomorrow, but we have to recognize that it’s not a given that we’re at peace.” He made reference to NATO’s preparations for countering its two greatest threats, terrorism and Russia, saying, “That’s why we are preparing for a conflict with Russia.” Christopher Skaluba, the head of the Transatlantic Security Initiative at the Atlantic Council in Washington, claims that the allies are experiencing a “fever fever” of anxiety that Russia may invade at some point because of the NATO exercise known as Steadfast Defender 2024.


In conclusion, the Estonian government is aware that the terrain that Russia captured during the initial stages of its invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, before being driven back to the present front lines in eastern Ukraine, is about the same size as the Baltic nations. According to Col. Mati Tikerpuu, commander of Estonia’s 2nd Infantry Brigade, which is positioned around 30 kilometers (18 miles) from the Russian border, “their goal is to restore their power.” Colonel Tikerpuu stated last month from his command center at the Taara army camp, “We don’t believe this is a question of whether Russia will attempt an invasion or not.” He stated that “the only question is when” for many Estonians.


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