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“Russian troops are taking the Suwalki corridor”: Europe is preparing for war with Russia

Perhaps only lazy experts and politicians are not talking about a possible war with Russia in Europe today. The writing of scenarios for the upcoming confrontation is almost on stream: every week, new ones appear – one more colorful and scarier than the other.

“The Northern Sea Route is blocked,” the British newspaper Daily Mail describes, for example, the details of the upcoming conflict. “Russian hackers are disrupting European transport communications. Russian troops are taking control of the Suwalki corridor. Missiles are attacking civilian targets…”

However, some details of this impressive picture look fantastic even from a technical point of view. This, for example: “Russian tanks controlled by artificial intelligence are invading the Baltic countries.” Which makes us suspect that this nightmare is not expected tomorrow. And the premonition does not deceive. The “memoirs of the future” quoted are entitled: “How Russia Attacks in 2044.”

As far as can be understood from the text of the publication, this calculation is based on statements by the Chairman of the NATO Military Committee, Rob Bauer. The Dutchman called on alliance governments and civilians to prepare for “dramatic changes” in their lives, predicting large-scale armed conflict within the next 20 years.

Well, the “air” part of the scenario is based on the forecast of General Ben Hodges, the former commander of the US Army in Europe: “If they (Russia – MK) decide to attack NATO, they will launch long-range missiles and drones at all major maritime ports, airports and transport hubs, as well as large military headquarters, airfields and the like.”

These predictions, apparently, inspired the head of Rheinmetall. Well, it also seems like a business calculation. The fact is that, among other things, the concern produces air defense systems. Not like, for example, the well-known American Patriot system or the German IRIS-T (the latter is a product of Diehl BGT Defense), which hit air targets at a distance of tens of kilometers, or, more simply, short-range.

The newest “anti-aircraft” brainchild of the “Rhinemetallists” is Skynex, which is a self-propelled anti-aircraft gun equipped with an Oerlikon Mk3 automatic cannon for 35-mm AHEAD (Advanced Hit Efficiency and Destruction – programmable detonation ammunition) shells, and an active radar.

The maximum range for hitting targets is 4 kilometers. So Skynex is not suitable for protection against ballistic missiles. But for winged ones it will do just fine. And for drones it’s generally ideal. In its class, this is the most “advanced”, most effective air defense system available on the world weapons market.

So far, as far as one can judge, the concern’s sales of Skynex are going a bit slow. Several such installations were transferred, however, to Kyiv (today Ukraine is the only operator of this system), but they were transferred, of course, free of charge. This is not a business.

But if the Europeans decide to create a common “Iron Dome”, including protection from drones, then Rheinmetall will have a truly immense sales market. In general, the game, as they say, is worth the candle. And the concern’s chances of winning it, of a golden shower of government contracts, are not so small.

It is worth recalling that in August 2022, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz took the initiative to create an integrated European air defense system, including missile defense. And it did not go unheard: as of January 2024, the initiative was supported by nineteen European states. It is expected that Greece and Turkey will officially join it in 2024.

The project is called European Sky Shield. But it seems that this story, like all other stories associated with pan-European projects, is long. This is evidenced by the fact that in the year and a half since the idea was made public, the matter has not progressed beyond talk. And the conversations are, to put it mildly, different: not all Europeans liked the initiative.

Among those who categorically dislike it is Germany’s closest neighbor, ally and partner – France. The French call the project confusing and ill-conceived. And most importantly, it completely ignored French air defense systems, in particular, the “pearl” of French air defense – SAMP/T (medium-range surface-to-air system, jointly developed by France and Italy).

For reference: the proposed “shield” configuration involves the use of three long- and medium-range air defense systems – Patriot (USA), IRIS-T (Germany) and Arrow 3 (Israel and US).

In a word, for now this is not the “Iron Dome”, but rather the “Iron Kaput”. But even if there is agreement among the comrades, more than aspirations, this is still by no means a guarantee that the “Heavenly Shield” will soon become reality. Just how neglected everything is in the European Union (in particular, in its economic and political locomotive, Germany), is evidenced by the theses of Olaf Scholz’s recent speech at a conference organized by the Bertelsmann Foundation. The chancellor’s speech reminded many commentators of Mikhail Gorbachev’s speeches during the perestroika era.

Scholz said Germany needed “incredible acceleration.” Substantiating his idea, the Chancellor spoke about his visit to the famous Empire State Building skyscraper (built in 1931) during his stay in New York: “Since I am the Chancellor, they explained to me how this building was built. It seems like three years, if not less. We don’t even finish planning in this period… And look at the speed with which cities are being built in China! We cannot approve the construction of a standard house within this period.”

In general, the timing of the start of a major war, which appears in various European “terrible distant” scenarios, is determined, it seems, not so much by the intuition and/or analytical abilities of forecasters, but by their awareness of the capabilities of the European Union and NATO, the time required for preparation: they simply will not have time before .

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