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NATO’s Readiness Questioned: German Historian’s Stark Warning on Potential Conflict with Russia

Dec 2, 2023

A Dire Assessment of NATO’s Preparedness

In a sobering analysis of NATO’s current military readiness, Sönke Neitzel, a prominent German professor of military history at the University of Potsdam, has raised serious concerns about the alliance’s ability to engage in a potential conflict with Russia.

Neitzel’s assessment, coming at a time of heightened tensions, suggests that NATO, particularly Germany, might not be fully prepared for a direct confrontation with Russian forces. This stark warning comes amidst broader discussions about military preparedness and defense capabilities within the alliance.

Germany’s Military Shortcomings and a Plea for Action

Highlighting Germany’s specific challenges, Neitzel pointed out the significant shortfall in the German army’s manpower, with a deficit of 30,000 soldiers against a target of 203,000 and a lack of 60,000 reserve soldiers.

His comments, made at a Berlin security conference, underscored the urgent need for increased funding and recruitment in the military. Neitzel emphasized the gravity of the situation with a poignant question posed to the nation’s leaders, “What did we do?” and warned of the dire consequences if these issues are not promptly addressed.

Pessimism Over Ukraine and the Shadow of Russian Aggression

Further complicating the situation is the skepticism expressed by Neitzel and other NATO officials about Ukraine’s ability to reclaim territories and cities seized by Russia. This pessimism reflects a broader concern about NATO’s overall strategic positioning and readiness to respond to Russian aggression, not just in Ukraine, but potentially across Eastern Europe. Neitzel’s comments highlight the need for a reassessment of NATO’s strategic approach and a bolstering of its defensive capabilities in the face of growing threats.


In a candid warning, German historian Sönke Neitzel has voiced serious doubts about NATO’s preparedness for a possible military conflict with Russia. He stressed Germany’s particular shortcomings in military manpower and the urgent need for increased defense funding.

At a security conference in Berlin, Neitzel’s remarks emphasized the high stakes involved and the responsibility of German leaders to address these gaps. Additionally, he highlighted a general pessimism within NATO regarding Ukraine’s prospects against Russian advances. This alarm call from a respected military historian serves as a critical reminder of the challenges facing NATO and the urgency of bolstering its defensive readiness.

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