Europe is preparing for Russia to start World War 3, leaked documents reveal

Europe is preparing for Russia to start World War 3, leaked documents reveal
Russia could start World War 3: German Ministry of Defense documents

Europe needs to brace for a potential war with Russia as early as this year or next, experts have warned, following the leaking of official documents from Germany’s Ministry of Defence.

On Sunday, BILDpublished classified military information revealing that German armed forces are preparing for Vladimir Putin to expand his country’s war in Ukraine.

The papers hypothesise that the Russian president could attack NATO ally countries next year, via a “hybrid” offensive in Eastern Europe.

BILD set out multiple alarming potential scenarios that could unfold in the coming months, including the launch of “severe cyberattacks” on the Baltics in July, according to a New York Post translation.

The documents also allegedly lay out a worst-case scenario that would see Russia take advantage of the transition period following the US presidential election.

During this time, Putin’s regime could use propaganda to announce fictional “border conflicts” or “riots with numerous deaths” to incite violence in the Suwalki Gap area (a sparsely populated region around the border between Lithuania, Poland, and Belarus) and sow unrest, BILD reports.

In January 2025, following a meeting of the UN Security Council, Russia could then falsely accuse Western allies of plotting to move against Putin’s regime.

NATO needs to prepare for worst-case scenarios with Russia, experts are warning(Getty Images)

He could then use these allegations to rally troops to Belarus and the Baltics by March 2025, the papers suggest.

In this scenario, 30,000 German troops would be deployed for defence, while an estimated 70,000 Russian forces would have gathered in Belarus, according to the documents.

By May 2025, this military build-up could force NATO to enact “measures for credible deterrence” against further Russian incursion – resulting in a breakout of fighting between Western troops and Russian forces.

And whilst it’s worth noting that the plans obtained by BILD are simply theoretical scenarios that have been visualised by the German army, European allies continue to take Russia’s threat seriously.

German Defense Ministry officials would not comment on the specific plans laid out in the document, but told BILD: “Considering different scenarios, even if they are extremely unlikely, are part of everyday military business, especially in training.”

Putin could have a range of unconventional tactics up his sleeve(Getty Images)

Meanwhile, commentators have offered their own take on how World War 3 could pan out.

Fabian Hoffmann, a research fellow at the University of Oslo, wrote in an extensive X/Twitter thread on Sunday that the West is “much closer to war against Russia than most people realize.”

He posited that “we have at best two to three years” to deter Moscow, whom he said would risk an attack on NATO’s Eastern European countries, even though its forces are inferior to the Western defence alliance.

“Russia does not plan for the type of large-scale conventional war with NATO that we are currently seeing in Ukraine and for which we are primarily preparing,” he wrote.

“Already before taking substantial losses on the Ukranian battlefield, Russia knew that it would be inferior in such a scenario.

According to Hoffman, Russia wants to achieve a victory before NATO (largely thanks to the US) can use its military superiority against it.

Therefore, instead of engaging NATO in a "prolonged ground war" that he cannot win, Putin would “attempt to coerce NATO into submission by signalling the ability to inflict progressively greater amounts of damage.”

“This would entail, in particular, long-range strikes against critical civilian infrastructure across European NATO countries early on,” Hoffman wrote.

“The message to NATO governments: Don't come to the support of your Eastern European allies, unless you want to see your population suffer.”

Moscow could target critical civilian infrastructure in a bid to 'coerce NATO into submission'(Getty Images)

He then suggested that Russia would also “extend its nuclear umbrella over any NATO territory it managed to capture.”

“This sends a second message,” he warned. “Any endeavour to retake that territory, particularly by external NATO forces (USA), will result in nuclear escalation.”

According to the defence expert, Russia doesn’t aim to defeat the West militarily, but psychologically.

“This type of warfighting scenario is not a contest of forces, but primarily a risk-taking competition,” he wrote.

“The question becomes: Who will be the first to back down when confronted with the prospect of largescale war, including potential exchanges of strategic nuclear warheads?”

He noted that the balance of military power is often determined by the balance of resolve: “i.e., the relative willingness to remain steadfast even as risks are increasing.”

“This is why Russia pursues this type of strategy. Russia does not need to match NATO's conventional power. As long as NATO gives in first amid mounting psychological pressure due to a lack of resolve, Russia can walk away with a victory.

“Here's the thing: The ongoing war in Ukraine is teaching Russia a crucial lesson - that the West lacks resolve. Domestic disunity and endless discussions about escalation only reinforce Russia's belief that NATO will back down when push comes to shove.”

Russia could threaten the use of nuclear warheads (Getty Images)

Urging NATO to “credibly deny Russia the ability to seize any substantial part of NATO territory or to threaten strikes against NATO critical infrastructure,” he warned: “We must also have a serious discussion not only about how to deter a war with but also about how to fight one.”

“Are we prepared to retaliate against Russian critical civilian infrastructure in case Russia strikes ours first? How do we react to Russian nuclear first use?” he asked.

Concluding, he went on: “What we need, especially in Europe, is whole-of-society effort to get our affairs in order. There's no denying that this will come with a significant cost, but I fail to see any other viable option.

“Considering worst-case scenarios, as we should, time has already run out.”

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