The Netherlands should urgently get ready to face a security challenge posed by an “increasingly assertive” Russia, the nation’s Land Forces commander, Lieutenant General Martin Wijnen, said on Thursday. The EU nation should strengthen its military and help society adapt to the potential hardships of war, he added.
The general claimed that Moscow has designs on the Baltic States, three former Soviet republics which have joined NATO and the EU, after it is done with Ukraine.
“The Netherlands should not think that [its] safety is guaranteed just because we are 1,500 kilometers away,” Wijnen warned, adding that “Russia is getting stronger.”
Wijnen told De Telegraaf newspaper on Thursday that the Netherlands “must work on [its] operational readiness, ensure that we have enough deterrence to deprive any adversary of the courage to [attack] us.”
He also claimed that “there is only one language that Russia understands,” and that is the one “of robust Armed Forces.”
The general, who has led the Royal Netherlands Army since 2019, also described the Dutch military as “crippled by budget cuts,” according to De Telegraaf. The Netherlands, which abolished conscription back in 1997, is now facing a “glaring personnel shortage,” the paper said.
Wijnen spoke about the need to increase the army’s size and warned that it could not afford to take any battle casualties.
“If we start to suffer losses, who will replenish them?” the general asked. “We used to have options for that, but not anymore,” he added, noting that the Dutch would not get a choice on whether to fight or not in case of an “imposed conflict.”