Europe must ramp up its security and defense capabilities to respond to the threat that Russia poses, as the U.S. will likely reduce its involvement on the Continent in the coming years, German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius said on Saturday.
“Regardless of who becomes the next [U.S.] president … there will be a, hopefully only moderate, reduction in American involvement in Europe,” Pistorius said in an interview with Welt am Sonntag. “This means that we Europeans must increase our commitment to ensure security on our Continent,” he said.
Pistorious said the U.S. military is expected to increasingly turn its attention to the Pacific region in the next decade, meaning less focus on Europe.
Russia’s scale-up of arms production to sustain its operations in Ukraine poses a real threat, especially to the Baltic states, Georgia and Moldova, Pistorius warned. “This isn’t just saber-rattling. Dangers could lie ahead at the end of this decade,” he said.
Europe has to commit to re-arm itself, as it will take some time for its industry to ramp up its production capacity, Pistorius said. “We now have about five to eight years in which we have to catch up ― in the armed forces, in industry and in society.”
Europe should push for military cooperation and aid beyond its borders, as not doing so would allow Russia and China to extend their influence, Pistorius said. Small missions in the areas of military advice or cooperation, even with countries that do not share Europeans values, would bring both economic and political benefits, he said.
“The alternative would be to have no more contacts with these countries and to leave them to the Russians and Chinese from the outset. And that would be even more dangerous,” he said.
More from … Carlo Boffa