NATO underestimated Russia's ability to produce ammunition and recruit troops, - Commander of the Estonian Defense Forces
North Atlantic Treaty Organization allies have admitted that they underestimated Russia's ability to produce munitions and build up troops to wage war against Ukraine. This prompted a wave of warnings about preparations for long-term hostilities and even a possible attack by the aggressor on NATO countries.
Although experts are convinced that for this to happen, the Kremlin will have to withdraw 300,000 of its troops from Ukrainian territory, so the Alliance still has time to prepare. This was stated by the commander of the Estonian Defense Forces, Martin Herem, as quoted by Bloomberg.
He noted that the predictions that Russian troops would reach the limit of their resources did not materialize. According to him, the Russian Armed Forces are capable of producing several million artillery shells a year, which is far superior to European efforts. Moscow can also recruit hundreds of thousands of new soldiers into the ranks of its occupation army.
The general from Estonia, which shares a nearly 300-kilometer border with Russia, joined a growing number of NATO military leaders who have warned over the past month that the Alliance must prepare for a conflict with Russia.
"A lot of people thought they couldn't go any further than that - today the facts tell us otherwise. They can produce more - much more - munitions," he warned.
Bloomberg writes that almost two years after Putin launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine, NATO leaders are preparing for a long war as Kyiv's counteroffensive "has not achieved its goals" and Russian troops have dug in along a 1,500-kilometer front line stretching from the eastern region of Donbas to the mouth of the Dnipro River in the south.
Estonian intelligence has predicted that it will take Russia three to five years to rebuild its military power to the point where it can pose a direct threat to NATO. However, the proximity of the Baltic region and Moscow's increasingly bellicose rhetoric raise concerns about this.
Herem does not see Russia as a direct threat to NATO "today or tomorrow," but recognizes that the risk to the Alliance could rise to a critical level once Russian resources are freed up from the war in Ukraine. According to him, Russia will be able to participate in smaller-scale aggression.
To do this, first of all, Russia must withdraw from the war in Ukraine "by any means necessary" by withdrawing the bulk of its troops - 300 out of 400 thousand occupants. Second, it will need time to recover or adapt. Looking at the Kremlin's military machine today and the way Russian society supports it, the aggressor country will need a year to recover, he says.
Thirdly, he believes that even if Russia recovers in a year and Ukraine gets out of the war, something else significant must happen in the world: a superpandemic, a total economic collapse, a war in Taiwan or the Balkans. So the West should be very vigilant.
The head of the Estonian Defense Forces noted that the fourth factor that the West can still change is how well it is prepared for a possible invasion.
"The better prepared we are, the less likely Russia will try. But if we don't prepare for it and don't talk about it... then it can be expected. And hence these calculations for three to five years. This year Russia is unlikely to withdraw from Ukraine, next year it will, add a year or two, and it will be three," ERR quoted him as saying.
Herem emphasized that Russia is not holding back in Ukraine, and from May to December 2023, it managed to increase the number of its troops on its territory. In addition, Moscow was able to launch the Russian military industry.
"If last year we said that it was producing about a million shells a year, I think that this year it is producing several times more. And this forces us all to speak honestly about this threat, and there is no need to panic," he reiterated.
As reported by OBOZ.UA, military expert, retired colonel Petro Chernyk emphasized that Russia is more actively generating an aggressive strategy every day, in particular, against NATO countries. However, its army has no chance of winning a conventional war with the Western world, that is, one waged with conventional weapons without the use of nuclear weapons.