Will the Ukraine Crisis Militarize Europe?

Civilian participants in a Kyiv Territorial Defense unit train on a Saturday in a forest on January 22 in Kyiv, Ukraine.
Sean Gallup/Getty Images

Will the Ukraine Crisis Militarize Europe?

Even if Russian President Vladimir Putin sends his troops home tomorrow, the Ukraine crisis has already radically changed the world. Without setting a foot over the Ukrainian border, Putin has exposed the split within the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and perhaps even killed the alliance. Germany and the United States are not allies, but opponents.

He may have already forever changed Europe. Just months after America’s retreat from Afghanistan, Europe has had another wake-up call: It must improve its military power.

Putin is reportedly laughing at Europe’s weakness, boasting that Moscow’s fire brigade is all that would be needed to defeat the German Army and move into Berlin.

Dr. Thomas Enders, president of the German Council on Foreign Relations and former Airbus ceo, was stung by those remarks. Last week, he called for a massive increase in German military spending—one that would completely revolutionize Germany’s role in the world.

Enders wants Germany to boost its defense spending to 2 to 3 percent of gross domestic product over the next five years. Don’t let dry numbers fool you—that’s a huge change.

If spending got close to the 3 percent level, it would more than double German military spending. Using current gdp figures, it would see Germany spend $120 billion, compared to Russia’s $70 billion, the United Kingdom’s $60 billion and France’s $50 billion. It would be spending more than Western Europe’s second- and third-biggest military spenders combined. Such a shift would put the European Union’s military spending ahead of China’s.

Look at how Russia and China are able to make the world shake. Germany would have that same power.

Germany’s voice already carries weight in Europe and the world because of its economic power. Increasing its military spending would give it a military power to match. This one change alone would bring Europe close to superpower status.

And Enders wants Europe working more closely together. He wrote that “the government should immediately hold talks with France about a European Defense Union.” He also said, “The establishment of a European nuclear deterrent based on the French Force de Frappe should also be agreed.” This is a recipe for a superpower.

Talk is cheap. Dr. Enders doesn’t have the power to make this change himself. But the German Council on Foreign Relations carries a lot of influence. It gets over a quarter of its funding from the German government. And Enders had the ear of former German Chancellor Angela Merkel, often accompanying her on overseas trips.

Germany isn’t the only European country looking to make this change. Latvia called for nato to increase its target level of military spending from 2 percent to 2.5 percent.

Poland announced in October its plans to double the size of its armed forces (though much of the planned increases were part of earlier plans). It is also accelerating its push to modernize its hardware, replacing Soviet-era tanks and planes with more modern equipment.

Sweden responded to Russia’s military actions by deploying troops to Gotland, a strategic island in the Baltic.

This comes on top of other spending increases announced in previous years. Sweden is in the process of boosting its defense spending by 50 percent. Greece’s 2021 budget was up nearly 60 percent compared to 2019. Italy has been struggling for cash, yet still managed to increase its budget for five years in a row, starting in 2017.

In our latest Trumpet magazine, editor in chief Gerald Flurry emphasized the way German business leaders were pushing Germany to ally with Russia. Many of these leaders want the U.S. removed from Europe—and a strong Germany to take its place.

A strong Russia helps these goals. Russia and Germany can work together to harm the United States. But fear of Russia could also help overcome the German public’s resistance to high levels of military spending.

In an interview published with the Financial Times over the weekend, Latvian Defense Minister Artis Pabriks had some harsh words for Germany. Its close relationship with Russia and China is “immoral and hypocritical,” he said.

“Germans forgot already that Americans were granting their security in the Cold War. But they should [remember]. It’s their moral duty,” he said.

However, in the same interview, he said, “European security cannot be done without a German leading role.” Germany’s betrayal of nato is leading many nations to criticize it as an unreliable ally—no one more strongly than Latvia. But at the same time, they’re still looking to Germany. They don’t have much choice. These countries in Central and Eastern Europe cannot stand up to Russia by themselves. The United States has also shown itself unreliable. Some, like Poland, are boosting their links with the United Kingdom. But in the long run, the UK won’t prove itself any more reliable.

Just like Putin, these East European leaders don’t see Germany as all that threatening. So instead of being scared by Germany, they’re looking to Germany to come to their aid.

But Germany has looked unthreatening before. In her 1813 book On Germany, Madame de Staël ridiculed the Germans as a military power. “Nothing is odder than the German soldiers,” she wrote. “They fear fatigue or bad weather, as if they were all shopkeepers or literati. … Wood-burning stoves, beer and tobacco smoke create a heavy and warm atmosphere around them, which it is difficult for them to leave.”

In The Europeans, Luigi Barzini compared Germany to Proteus, the shape-shifting old man of the sea. Dramatic changes are common. The Germans “emerged from the stove-headed rooms filled with pipe smoke in 1870,” wrote Barzini. “They crossed the border of France as a gray tide of faceless, disciplined soldiers with spiked helmets, a relentless unstoppable war machine. Where had they come from? Only a few Germans and no foreigner had suspected what the imminent metamorphosis would be like. … Weeping French writers went on for decades telling innumerable heart-breaking stories of how ruthless, rapacious and contemptuous the invaders had been. How could these Germans be so dissimilar from those harmless and peaceful people Madame de Staël had described, those whom Europe had known and loved only a few years before?”

Could the Moscow fire brigade receive a similar wake-up call?

The Ukraine crisis could easily be a pivot for Germany. A Germany spending 3 percent on its military would certainly be something we’ve not seen for a long time—a militant Germany.

Barzini could not explain this change. But the Bible can. Revelation 17 describes an empire that rises and falls seven times. Verse 8 says: “The beast that thou sawest was, and is not; and shall ascend out of the bottomless pit, and go into perdition: and they that dwell on the earth shall wonder, whose names were not written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, when they behold the beast that was, and is not, and yet is.” It dominates the world, and then it disappears. No one feels threatened by that power.

But the signs are all around us that this beast power is rising once more. A repeat of history more shocking than most can imagine is coming. The fact that Germany is working with Russia against the United States shows that. It will soon play a much more aggressive role in the world.

Keep watching its rise. Most of the world is ignorant of that. Even as it is about to strike most will not see that beast power for what it is.

Ignoring a problem seems comfortable and convenient. But understanding what the Bible says about this beast power is the only real hope. The Bible gives a way out from what is coming—both individually and nationally. Understand what the Bible says, and you won’t be surprised by what is coming. Instead, you’ll see the Bible’s authority and truth proved repeatedly and powerfully before your eyes.

To learn more about this beast power and what the Bible says about Germany’s future, read our free book The Holy Roman Empire in Prophecy.