Putin Has Ensures His Neighbors Are Arming Up Thanks to His Ukraine War: Russian President Vladimir Putin has famously described the dissolution of the Soviet Union as one of the great tragedies of the 20th century, and he has essentially sought to become a modern-day Tsar Peter the Great or Empress Catherine the Great – no doubt hoping history would remember him as Vladimir the Great.
Of course, given how the war is going, that’s not going to happen – not to mention the fact, there already was a Vladimir the Great, who happened to be from Kiev.
In fact, instead of rebuilding the Russian Empire, Putin has successfully set his nation on a course to ruin. More importantly, he’s convinced his neighbors of the need to rearm and ensure that they don’t fall under his sphere of influence.
The Baltic States of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania have supported Ukraine, while each has sought to acquire new military hardware, including the U.S.-made HIMARS missile systems. Likewise, Poland is on course to become NATO’s largest operator of main battle tanks (MBTs) after the United States. Warsaw has recently concluded deals with Washington to acquire the M1 Abrams and with Seoul to purchase the South Korean-made K2 Black Panther.
Romania – NATO’s Southern Bulwark
In addition, Romania is on track to ensure that NATO’s southern flank is also secured. The Balkan nation – which has been a NATO member since 2004 – has increased announced it will increase its defense spending to 2.5% of its gross domestic product (GDP) next year from the current 2%.
In addition, the state-owned ROMARM, which controls some 15 companies that make everything from small arms to guided missiles, announced that it has begun to invest in new technologies to boost the output and exports in the region. Since Russia launched its unprovoked invasion in February, ROMARM has seen its turnover increase six times – with exports accounting for most of it.
Bucharest hasn’t disclosed how much aid it has also provided to Ukraine, but NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said in November it was “significant.”
The NATO Line of Control
There is little chance that Russia could currently threaten Romania’s border or NATO’s southern flank – especially given how the Kremlin’s forces are faring in Ukraine – yet, as lead nation for NATO’s “Enhanced Forward Presence,” France deployed an armored unit to the region late last year.
That included around 20 armored personnel carriers (APCs) and 13 Leclerc main battle tanks (MBTs). Those French tanks, considered to be among the best in service today, had previously been deployed to Estonia and Lithuania.
“The Ukrainian crisis shows that what’s going on in the east can threaten all of Europe. We’re showing that NATO is present, united and ready for anything,” said Alexandre de Feligonde, a French colonel leading a battalion of troops from different countries in central Romania, The Defense Post first reported.
Putin has only encouraged his neighbors to build up their forces. They are now solidly unified against Moscow. His greatest military nightmare is now reality.
A Senior Editor for 19FortyFive, Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer. He has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites with over 3,000 published pieces over a twenty-year career in journalism. He regularly writes about military hardware, firearms history, cybersecurity, and international affairs. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes and Clearance Jobs. You can follow him on Twitter: @PeterSuciu.