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Friday, July 19, 2024

Citizens of EU state told to prepare for war with Russia

Ending conscription was a mistake, Romanian army chief General Gheorghita Vlad told US state media

Romanian Chief of Defense Staff General Gheorghita Vlad has called for ordinary citizens to be trained for war with Russia, arguing that such a conflict could break out “in the immediate future.” Multiple European politicians and generals have issued similar statements in recent weeks.

“The Russian Federation has become a problem for the world order,” Vlad said in an interview with the US state-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty outlet on Thursday. The general claimed that Russian President Vladimir Putin will “not stop” at victory in Ukraine, and will attack either Moldova or the western Balkans “in the immediate future,” and that NATO states must “prepare the population accordingly.”

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Romania’s professional military is not ready for war, he stated, noting that 6,000 of its roughly 80,000 full-time soldiers left the ranks last year. The Romanian armed forces should increase its number of full-time troops to 120,000, he recommended, while also training large numbers of 18-35-year-old civilians “in the basic principles of warfare.”

Asked whether he was calling for conscription, Vlad said that such a system would be voluntary, with training offered only to “those who wish to participate in such a program.” However, the general described the end of conscription as “a negative not only for Romania, but for all NATO countries.”

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Romania suspended mandatory military service in 2007. Former Prime Minister Nicolae Ciuca – an ex-general – suggested last year that it be reintroduced, but his successor, Marcel Ciolacu, has not followed through on this push. Responding to Vlad’s interview, Ciolacu called for “calm,” telling reporters on Friday that “Romania will not enter into any war.”

However, Romania’s parliament is currently considering a bill to introduce the kind of system described by Vlad. The general told Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty that it will be “discussed with priority” after elections later this year.

Vlad is the latest in a growing line of European political and military leaders to predict an imminent war with Russia. Among others, Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas claimed last month that such a conflict could break out within “three to five years,” German Defense Minister Boris Pistorious put the timeline at five to eight years, while British Defense Minister Grant Shapps went further than all of his continental counterparts, predicting a cataclysmic war with Russia, China, Iran and North Korea within the next five years.

Military brass in all of these nations have demanded increases in defense spending, while some have, like Vlad, proposed more novel ways of swelling the ranks. UK Chief of the General Staff Patrick Sanders has recommended a “whole-of-nation undertaking” to train and equip a “citizen army,” while Pistorious has proposed allowing non-nationals to fight in the German military.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has dismissed these apocalyptic predictions as “complete nonsense,” arguing that Moscow has “no geopolitical, economic … or military interest” in attacking NATO territory. Speaking at the UN headquarters in New York last month, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that “no one wants a big war,” including Russia. “We have lived through ‘big wars’ many times in our history,” he added.