German armed forces 'preparing for Nato conflict with Russia', leaked documents claim

British soldiers on manoeuvres in the Tapa central military training area in Estonia during a Nato exercise (File picture) (PA Wire)
British soldiers on manoeuvres in the Tapa central military training area in Estonia during a Nato exercise (File picture) (PA Wire)

Germany is preparing for Vladimir Putin’s forces to attack Nato’s eastern flank as early as next year, according to a leaked military document.

Documents obtained by the German newspaper Bild claim that the Bundeswehr, the country’s armed forces, have prepared for a direct military confrontation with Russia.

The secret plans outline a “path to conflict” between Russia and the military alliance, beginning with a mobilisation of Mr Putin’s forces in February 2024 and the launch of a spring offensive that gains a significant amount of Ukrainian territory.

By July, the scenario forecasts that Russia would begin conducting cyberattacks in the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

Moscow would then simultaneously seek to incite violence among ethnic minorities in the Baltic, claiming they are being targeted.

Russia could use these clashes as a pretext to deploy up to 50,000 troops to Belarus and western Russia by September, the document says. This would be followed by the movement of troops and medium-range missiles to the enclave of Kaliningrad, which lies between Poland and Lithuania.

In December, the document anticipates a “border conflict” and riots in the Suwalki Corridor between Belarus and Kaliningrad.

Moscow would then seek to exploit the chaos of the aftermath of the US election by launching an attack on Nato territory in January 2025, it says.

In an extraordinary UN Security Council meeting, Russia would then accuse the West of preparing an attack against Russia.

The scenario concludes with Nato ordering the deployment of 300,000 troops to the eastern flank in May 2025.

The Standard could not independently verify the documents.

Mitko Müller, a spokesman for the German Defense Ministry, did not confirm or deny the details of the report at a media briefing on Monday afternoon.

Jānis Sārts, Director of the NATO Center of Excellence for Strategic Communications, said that the document outlined a training scenario, which is always a fictional situation.

“Previously, scenarios were completely invented with non-existent countries and geographical regions. Now it is more appropriate to use existing countries and geographical regions,” he said.

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov did not comment on the details of the report.

Nato's collective defence guarantee, known as Article 5, means an attack against one ally is considered as an attack on them all.

US President Joe Biden has claimed that Russia would attack a Nato country if it won the war in Ukraine.

Mr Putin last month dismissed his remarks as “complete nonsense”, adding that Russia had “no reason” to fight the military alliance.

Nato was founded in 1949 to provide Western security against the Soviet Union. After the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union, it was enlarged to include some former Soviet and Warsaw Pact countries.

Mr Putin has repeatedly claimed, without evidence, that the expansion of Nato represents a threat to Russia’s security.

On Monday, defence secretary Grant Shapps announced that 20,000 service personnel from the Royal Navy, the British Army, and the Royal Air Force would be deployed across Europe this year to deter Russian aggression.

British forces will join 30 other Nato countries as part of Exercise Steadfast Defender 24.

Mr Shapps claimed the operation would provide “vital reassurance against the Putin menace”.