NATO: 500,000 Troops on High Readiness for War With Russia

Officials say the alliance now has hundreds of thousands of soldiers ready to deploy to fight Russia within a month

June 16, 2024

An official with the North Atlantic alliance says the bloc has exceeded its goal of placing 300,000 soldiers on standby for a potential war with Russia. The announcement comes as NATO members significantly escalate support for Ukraine, bringing the alliance closer to direct war with Moscow.

On Thursday, a NATO official told AFP that member states have 300,000 soldiers ready to deploy for a conflict with Russia in the space of 30 days. “The offers on the table from allies comfortably exceed the 300,000 that we set,” the official said. “Those are forces which allies have said to us, ‘They are available to you as of now at that level of readiness.’”

NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg said the number of NATO soldiers at high readiness is significantly greater than the 300,000 benchmark. “Allies are offering forces to NATO’s command at a scale not seen in decades. Today we have 500,000 troops at high readiness across all domains, significantly more than the goal that was set at the 2022 Madrid Summit,” he said on Friday.

The alliance hit its goal as its members significantly ratcheted up support for Kiev in recent weeks. The US and several other nations also recently gave a green light for Ukraine to use their weapons to strike targets inside Russia.

The Netherlands and Denmark plan to supply Kiev with F-16s in the coming months, and say the advanced aircraft could be used to bomb Russia. Stoltenberg added that he welcomes the policy shift, and said it should not be considered an escalation by Russia.

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However, the Kremlin has issued stern warnings to the West about any F-16 transfer, with Russian officials explaining the US-made warplane could carry nuclear weapons and present a strategic threat to Moscow. Ukraine plans to store the F-16s on the territory of other NATO states, and Russia has threatened to strike those facilities.

Additionally, some members of NATO are preparing to send their own troops into Ukraine to train local forces. Earlier this month, President Emmanuel Macron said France was working to “finalize a coalition” of NATO countries that are willing to send troops. Moscow has stated that any French trainers deployed to Ukraine would be legitimate targets of the Russian military.

Russian President Vladimir Putin recently blasted Western leaders for placing the world on the brink of a larger war. “Ultimately, the selfishness and arrogance of Western states led to the current extremely dangerous state of affairs,” he explained in a speech at the Russian Foreign Ministry on Friday. “We have come dangerously close to the point of no return. Calls to inflict strategic defeat on Russia, possessing the largest arsenals of nuclear weapons, demonstrate the extreme recklessness of Western politicians.”

Kyle Anzalone is the opinion editor of Antiwar.com, news editor of the Libertarian Institute, and co-host of Conflicts of Interest.

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