Despite current critical health risks, the US military will continue with its plans for a large-scale combat exercise in Europe involving the deployment of tens of thousands of personnel – Defender 2020.
Commenting on the dangers posed by the continuation of this major manoeuvre, Özlem Alev Demirel (Die Linke, Germany), Vice-Chair of the European Parliament’s Committee on Security and Defence, explains that there were always many reasons to call this plan off – the coronavirus is just one more.
“Sometimes I wonder if I’m in a bad movie. Half of Europe is almost in a state of emergency because of the coronavirus, whole areas of Europe are quarantined, but the Defender 2020 military manoeuvre with up to 37,000 soldiers being transferred across Europe to the Russian border is to continue!”
“Yesterday, the US European Command announced that they will reduce the number of participating soldiers by an unspecified number, but are planning to continue with the manoeuvre. Given that President Trump has just imposed a ban on entry for Europeans, the whole undertaking seems outstandingly cynical.”
“No matter the risks, the US and NATO want to stick to their Defender 2020 plan and the sabre-rattling against Russia that goes with it. Some military generals have even been quarantined following a Defender 2020 meeting, and a Polish officer that took part in it has tested positive.”
“From the beginning, this military deployment has been unnecessary, even dangerous. Against the backdrop of the coronavirus crisis, however, it has become completely absurd. To cancel cultural and sporting events only to then let tens of thousands of soldiers march across Europe at the same time, says a lot about the crisis management priorities of national governments.”