Press release

No to NATO war exercises – Yes to peace, and a policy of détente and disarmament

News Image
Published on: 23.02.2020

The European Left actively opposes the U.S. military exercise Defender 2020 as well as all supportive actions by NATO and European Union member states. Broad resistance is necessary! Together with the peace movement we have to take a stand against the politics of the US and their allies. Whenever possible, we have to disturb or prevent any maneuvers.

Defender 2020 is the opposite of peaceful politics. It is a dangerous threatening gesture of the US government costing 100 million Euros, endangering security in Europe and causing severe disruptions in train traffic as well as great damage to climate and environment. The fuel needed for the movement of vessels, tanks and trucks alone will lead to a marked increase in carbon emissions and fine particles.

All across the continent people demonstrate against the life threatening destruction of the environment and the containment of climate change. While the youth is claiming their future, the military – biggest destroyer of environment and climate – practices its rituals unfazed. The prevention of this oversized maneuver would be a first small step in the right direction.

The scope of the maneuver and the location along the Russian western border are a provocation for Russia. The maneuver entails the danger of a possible direct confrontation between military units of NATO and Russia.

We are especially concerned about the fact that Defender 2020 is not a one-time event, it indicates a strategic shift towards global and increasingly confrontative power politics by the US and NATO. Defender exercises are scheduled to be repeated every year – not only as a transatlantic maneuver, but also in parallel in the Pacific region. The maneuvers focus on confronting Russia as well as China, alternately as heavy and light maneuvers. While the 2020 maneuver in the Pacific will be a so-called light exercise (still involving hugh troop deployments), the transatlantic maneuver will be extensive. In 2021 the Pacific maneuver will be the heavyweight one, including the movement of tens of thousands of US-Soldiers to Asia and in 2021 Europe will be host to the “light” version of the exercise.

This confrontational politics of NATO and EU towards Russia have begun with the Eastern enlargement of NATO in 1990 and let to the encirclement of Russia. The European Left advocates a policy of détente and friendly cooperative relations with Russia, as it was formulated in the Charter of Paris in 1990 by all European states including Russia, the U.S. and Canada: “The era of confrontation and division of Europe has ended. We declare that henceforth our relations will be founded on respect and co-operation.”

While immense means are needed urgently in Europe and the world to solve the actual problems of humanity, all NATO states work towards increasing military spending to at least two percent of the GDP. Military equipment devours means and resources which are painfully lacking for social, ecological and infrastructural tasks.

Many European governments support this policy instead of advocating civil conflict solutions. They increases their military spending and arms exports further and further. Unspeakable suffering is caused globally by weapons systems which are now being tested for being fit for service in the framework of the U.S. exercise Defender 2020 and the adjoined NATO maneuver.

The European Left is part of the peace movement and supports its activities. Special focus lies on the Easter marches recurring for the 60th time this year having lost nothing of their necessity.

We take a stand for these aims and decisively say: No to NATO the war maneuver Defender 2020!

We demand:

– a policy of détente and political conflict resolution instead of military confrontation,

– cooperation with Russia in a common house of Europe,

– consistent disarmament.

We turn to everyone who cares about peace! Take to the streets with us, protest where you work and live! Peace needs movement, lets start with this defENDer!

— Background information

US and NATO have started one of the biggest maneuvers of its ground forces in Europe since the end of the Cold War – Defender 2020. This military exercise is supposed to last until May or even June 2020.

Altogether 37000 soldiers from 16 NATO states as well as Finland and Georgia are initiating a new dimension of military activity. Up to 20.000 US GI units with the corresponding heavy equipment are first crossing the Atlantic and then are being transferred right through Europe to the borders of Russia. The aim of the maneuver is the demonstration of military superiority and of a very quick transfer of big units from the U.S. to the eastern flank of NATO.

Germany becomes the hub of the transfers with its new Joint Support and Enable Command of NATO in Ulm, the transshipment harbors in Hamburg, Bremerhaven and Nordenham as well as the Convoy Support Centres in Garlstedt, Burg and the Saxon military training area Oberlausitz.

The U.S. command Europe in Wiesbaden is head of operations for transport and maneuver. It will be lead by EUCOM Stuttgart. Data transfer and additional air transport will be handled by the U.S. air base Ramstein. At the same time there will be military trainings in Grafenwöhr and Hofenfels. The transfer of equipment will heavily affect road and rail traffic. The German Bundeswehr agreed on traffic priority for all military transfers with the German rail company Deutsche Bahn.