NATO summit in Brussels prepares massive escalation of war on Russia

The leading NATO powers are using the summit in Brussels on the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the military alliance to massively escalate the war against Russia. In order to prevent the imminent collapse of the Ukrainian military, the alliance is feverishly working on measures that threaten to provoke a direct military conflict with the nuclear-armed power and plunge the entire continent into a devastating war.

A round table meeting of the North Atlantic Council in foreign ministers format at NATO headquarters in Brussels, Wednesday, April 3, 2024. [AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert]

“Europe now faces war on a scale we thought was resigned to history,” said NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in a press statement at the start of the meeting of NATO foreign ministers. In recent days, Russia has launched “new major attacks” on Ukraine and “continues to press along the front lines.”

Therefore, NATO “must stand firm in our support to Ukraine,” Stoltenberg continued. And he welcomes the fact “that Allies continue to make major deliveries of weapons, ammunition, and equipment.” However, Kiev “has urgent needs. Any delay in providing support has consequences on the battlefield as we speak,” he warned. 

Despite the high death toll—Ukraine has already sacrificed hundreds of thousands on the battlefield—and the growing danger of a nuclear escalation, the leading imperialist powers are unwilling to deviate from their war objective: to impose a military defeat on Russia in Ukraine in order to bring Moscow under their control and subjugate the resource-rich and geostrategically important Eurasian landmass as a whole.

Stoltenberg stressed, “Ukraine will become a member of NATO. It is a question of when, not if.” And he left no doubt that the NATO offensive in Ukraine is part of a global war by the imperialist powers. 

“We know that our security is not regional—it is global,” said the NATO Secretary-General. “The war in Ukraine illustrates this clearly. Russia’s friends in Asia are vital for continuing its war of aggression. China is propping up Russia’s war economy. In return, Moscow is mortgaging its future to Beijing. North Korea and Iran are delivering substantial supplies of weapons and ammunition. In return, Pyongyang and Tehran are receiving Russian technology and supplies that help them advance their missile and nuclear capabilities.”

NATO is therefore called upon and must “shift the dynamics of our support.” There is a need to “ensure reliable and predictable security assistance to Ukraine for the long haul. … So that we rely less on voluntary contributions and more on NATO commitments.” The meeting would discuss “how NATO could assume more responsibility for coordinating military equipment and training for Ukraine anchoring this within a robust NATO framework.” Another issue would be the “multi-year financial commitment to sustain our support.”

Stoltenberg did not give any concrete details, but it is clear that the NATO powers are working on a massive escalation of war ahead of the NATO summit in Washington in July. According to media reports, this includes a €100 billion war fund for Ukraine over the next five years. At the same time, the military alliance is amassing ever larger numbers of troops on the Russian border and holding huge military exercises. 

The largest NATO base in Europe in terms of area is currently being built in Romania to accommodate 10,000 soldiers and their families. Germany is preparing the permanent stationing of two combat brigades in Lithuania. At the same time, there is open discussion about the deployment of ground troops to Ukraine. As recently as late March, the Chief of Staff of the French Army, Pierre Schill, boasted that France could “deploy 20,000 soldiers within 30 days.” 

The leading European NATO powers in particular are responding to the debacle of the Ukrainian army with declarations supporting a stronger European role in the war. In a joint article for the US daily Politico, the foreign ministers of Germany, France and Poland, Annalena Baerbock, Stéphane Séjourné and Radosław Sikorski, declare that they will continue their “support” for Ukraine “as long as it takes, and as intensively as needed.”

In doing so, the foreign ministers of the Weimar Triangle reject any diplomatic solution to the conflict and argue for an extension of the war. They wrote, “For Europe to be at peace, Russian imperialism must be stopped. We cannot allow for any ‘gray zones’ because Putin sees them as an invitation to undermine territorial integrity and sovereignty, draw imaginary lines on the map and, ultimately, use military force. His full-scale invasion of Ukraine has also proven that a policy of concessions vis-à-vis Russia, in the hopes that it could bring peace or stability back to the Continent, is naive.”

This is nothing but propaganda. All the talk of “Russian imperialism” threatening “peace” throughout Europe cannot hide the fact that in reality the NATO powers are the aggressors. 

What is NATO’s track record over the past 75 years? Under the leadership of the US, the military alliance founded as an anti-communist bulwark has undermined the “territorial integrity and sovereignty” of countless countries. Since the dissolution of the Soviet Union by the Stalinist bureaucracy, the NATO powers have been waging uninterrupted war for economic and geopolitical interests. Not only were large parts of the Middle East and Central Asia reduced to rubble, but the “territorial integrity and sovereignty” of entire countries were also destroyed in Europe. In 1999, NATO, with the active participation of Germany, waged a devastating bombing campaign against Serbia in order to enforce the secession of Kosovo.

The current war offensive is the continuation of this policy. The NATO powers provoked Russia’s reactionary invasion of Ukraine. They are now continuing to escalate the war in order to avert a collapse of the Ukrainian front and achieve their insane goal of defeating the nuclear-armed power Russia militarily. 

The article by Baerbock, Séjourné and Sikorski reads like a blueprint for the total war mobilization of Europe against Russia. They argue that the “European allies” should “shoulder their fair share of NATO’s collective burden and demonstrate readiness to take more responsibility for Europe’s defense. The enduring transatlantic bond remains the bedrock of our security, and we Europeans must address some of the most urgent shortcomings that have become painfully obvious during the past months and years: capability gaps, the readiness of our forces, production capacity, logistics, standardization and interoperability.”

Specifically, the three foreign ministers pledge to spend “a minimum of 2 percent of GDP on defence”. This is “a necessary prerequisite and the very foundation on which we build our collective defence.” At the same time, however, this figure should “only be a starting point” for developing the “forces and capabilities we need for collective defence.” 

Baerbock, Séjourné and Sikorski demand nothing less than the establishment of a European war economy. “We need to utilize our Continent’s full industrial potential to upgrade our military capabilities, ramp up production and harvest economies of scale,” they write. “Our national defense industries are key to this. They need binding long-term contracts—with clear timelines, a level of ambition, fixed financial commitments and purchase guarantees from our governments.”

In a recent perspective, the World Socialist Web Site wrote about the factors that are driving the ruling classes into a mobilization for total war:

As in the two world wars of the 20th century, the imperialist ruling elites feel that they have little time, and that only rapid escalation can counteract powerful political forces—in the military situation and the international class struggle—that are working against them.

This is especially true for the European powers. They are responding to the collapse of the Ukrainian army by becoming increasingly aggressive and calling for a larger European war effort. In doing so, they are driven by the constant fear that the working class will thwart their plans for war. 

Workers and young people are already mobilizing en masse against the genocide in Gaza and are also overwhelmingly opposed to the NATO war against Russia. The attacks on social and democratic rights associated with the policy of war are leading to an increase in protests and strikes. The unions and their pseudo-left supporters are desperate to isolate and suppress them. 

In order to stop the war madness, the opposition must be developed into an international movement of the working class against the capitalist profit system and armed with a conscious socialist leadership and perspective. This is what the Socialist Equality Party (SGP) is fighting for in alliance with its sister parties in the upcoming European elections. 

The SGP’s election statement declares: “Workers must counterpose to the EU of the banks and corporations, of mass death and war, the perspective of a United Socialist States of Europe. War cannot be ended, human lives cannot be saved and wages cannot be defended without breaking the power of the banks and corporations and placing them under democratic control. Instead of shooting at each other, workers in Russia and Ukraine and workers across Europe must fight together with this perspective against the warmongers at home.”