“We need to be prepared for war with Russia”: Dutch army chief

Martin Wijnen speaking at the military ceremony. In Veitsh'chheim, Bavaria, earlier thisyear. Photo: Heiko Becker/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images

The Netherlands should be better prepared for conflict with Russia, and that goes for both the armed forces and the general population, Dutch army chief Martin Wijnen said in an interview with the Telegraaf

This does not mean “everyone will have to start wearing a helmet,” he said. But the Netherlands should be following the example of Sweden, Finland and the Baltic states, which border Russia and where the population is much better prepared for the idea of a war with their much larger neighbour. 

Wijnen, who is standing down on January 1 has been commander of the Dutch armed forces since 2021. 

“The Netherlands needs to learn that the entire society must be ready if things go wrong,” he said. That means, for example, that people should stockpile enough food and water.

“The Netherlands should not think that our security is guaranteed because we are 1,500 kilometres further away,” he told the paper. 

Wijnen is not alone in his standpoint. Earlier this month the chief of staff of the Belgian army said he feared war with Russia and called for better preparations. Germany’s defence minister Boris Pistorius has also called for the return of military service.

Russia, said Wijnen is getting stronger. “There is only one language Russia understands and that is a robust army,” he said. It is, therefore, essential, he said, to reduce the shortage of people working for the defence ministry.

Some 600 youngsters took part in a voluntary year of service with the armed forces introduced this year along similar lines to Sweden. Wijnen said he hopes that in the future 2,000 to 3,000 youngsters will take part, around one third of whom will probably sign up for an army career. 

Thank you for donating to DutchNews.nl.

We could not provide the Dutch News service, and keep it free of charge, without the generous support of our readers. Your donations allow us to report on issues you tell us matter, and provide you with a summary of the most important Dutch news each day.

Make a donation