Today marks the start of NATO’s Saber Guardian multinational exercise in Bulgaria, Romania and Hungary. The operation, which is led by the US Army, will run until June 24, with around 27,000 troops believed to be taking part across the Baltic states. This yearly event, which has been running since 2010, focuses on training the forces to cooperate together to protect against a possible hostile attack in Europe.
A key NATO principle states that if an Ally is the victim of an armed attack, each and every other member of the Alliance will consider this act of violence as an armed attack against all members and will take the actions it deems necessary to assist.
In February 2014, following the Ukrainian revolution that ousted Viktor Yanukovych, the Crimean Peninsula was annexed by Russia under the orders of Vladimir Putin.
Within days, unmarked forces with local militias took over the Autonomous Republic of Crimea and Sevastopol, as well as occupying several localities in Kherson Oblast on the Arabat Spit, which is geographically a part of Crimea.
The move left many fearful of a “Russian resurgence” and mirrored the events of the Soviet Union’s post World War 2 actions as the “iron curtain” divided Europe.
It sparked NATO to order the creation of a new “spearhead” force of 5,000 troops at bases in Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, Poland, Romania and Bulgaria, as a spread to former Soviet strongholds seemed possible.
However, although the US did not intervene directly, political journalist and author Brett Stephens claims there should be no question that his country would go to war with Russia if they believed any NATO state was under threat.
He revealed during Amazon Prime’s “Is America in Retreat?” series how US involvement in the Berlin Blockade of 1948 proves this.
He said in 2017: “Look, during the Cold War, we risked nuclear war with the Soviet Union to defend this little outpost of freedom called West Berlin.
“From an objective military point of view, it was an indefensible position.
“And yet we garrisoned West Berlin, we stood up that city and in time it became a giant advertisement for the superiority of capitalism over communism.
“It’s not an accident, comrades, that when the Cold War ended, it ended in Berlin with that wall.
“So our willingness to commit to the defence of that little city ended up paying the biggest dividend of them all.”
Presenter of the show, Johan Norberg – a historian and author explained why this event served as a warning to any planned military action in the future.
He said: “The Tempelhof Airfield is the famed staging ground of the Berlin Airlift of 1948.
“This is where America and its allies flew over a Soviet blockade to bring desperately needed supplies into West Berlin.
“For 15 months, hundreds of planes landed here carrying thousands of tonnes of cargo per day.
“Everything from milk to coal, so West Berlin wouldn’t be starved into submitting into Soviet control.
“It served as an immediate humanitarian need, but it was something more – it was a clear expression of America’s vision for the economic and ideological future of a post-Wold War 2 Europe.”
On May 12, 1949, the USSR lifted the blockade of West Belin, although for a time the US, UK and France continued to supply the city by air anyway because they were worried that the Soviets were simply going to resume the disruption.
The Berlin Blockade served to highlight the competing ideological and economic visions for post-war Europe and was the first major multinational skirmish of the Cold War.