DW Documentary (May 28, 2023) – NATO members are viewing Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine with grave concern, especially those on the alliance’s eastern flank. They’re joining forces with German troops right on the Russian border.
Germany is the leading or “framework nation” in what is called the NATO Battle Group Lithuania. With its alliance partners, German forces are serving “on the front line” – right on the Russian border. They’re guarding NATO’s northeast flank against any possible incursion and ensuring the Baltic states are supported during times of crisis and, if necessary, conflict.
In the spring of 2023, Germany’s military is in Rukla and Pabrade, among other places, for maneuvers. There it is practicing with NATO partners from Croatia, the Czechia and the Netherlands to handle a Russian attack on the Baltic states. In full agreement with the NATO motto “train as you fight,” practice and training are closely-oriented to a genuine threat.
The leader of the German contingent, Colonel Wolfgang Schmidt, points out the special historic significance and perceived peril in the Baltic. He says, “From historical experience, of course the perception of possible aggression – be it Russian or Belarusian – is far more intense here than in the Federal Republic of Germany.” He adds that not everyone has grasped the defense of “all that we stand for – modernity, freedom of opinion and speech and everything we describe as Western values begins here.” For a year, Schmidt says, the Ukraine has been fighting far more than their Russian attackers – they’re defending “our freedom,” too. This report follows a major exercise called “Griffin Lightning.” A platoon commander with the Dutch Armed Forces emphasizes the importance of maneuvers and cooperation among the multinational forces.
First Lieutenant Bent S. says, “We’re taking part in different exercises. Last week we were with the Norwegians. In a few weeks, the whole Battle Group will come together and we’ll train again with the Norwegians, Germans, Czechs and Croats. Nobody wants war, but if it really comes to it, we’ll be ready.” This documentary provides an exclusive look at NATO maneuvers in Lithuania, which are unfolding closer than ever before to a genuine military threat.