nato excersize romania
© Sputnik / Alexey VitvitskyRomanian tanks TR-85M1 Bizonul and American main battle tank M1A1 Abrams at the US and Romania joint military exercise within operation Atlantic Resolve in Romania.
The West is championing the idea of free military movement to get rid of bureaucratic procedures and red tape and is seeking to conclude a deal on the creation of military corridors across Europe by July, as per The Times. What's really behind the idea?

The movement of troops and military cargo within Europe is reportedly complicated by numerous restrictions that prevent NATO forces from moving quickly across the Old Continent.

The NATO leadership is concerned about the rules that limit the exchange and movement of military equipment not only between European countries but also between regions in a particular country (namely Germany), claiming that the red tape could become a serious hurdle were a conflict with Russia to occur. The alliance would like to see "a military Schengen" in Europe, akin to the political Schengen which ensures seamless movement across Europe.

"I'm not surprised that NATO is creating a 'Schengen'," Professor Stevan Gajic, a research associate at the Institute of European Studies in Belgrade, told Sputnik.

"I would like to stress that the last time we had a European Schengen of this sort was Hitler's Germany and it occupied Europe during World War II. And we can speak about occupation since countries like Finland and Sweden got dragged into NATO without the consent of their people. This especially goes for the Finns, because they have a long tradition of neutrality. Swedes also do, but, unlike Swedes, the anti-Russian sentiment in Finland virtually did not exist. And this story that they were sold without a referendum, without their people actually having a democratic say about it, was for them to join NATO."

The military Schengen issue was raised by NATO in 2017 after identifying three different types of barriers in Europe: physical, legal and regulatory/administrative.

By physical barriers, they meant the existing transportation infrastructure in the EU; legal barriers referred to sovereign rights of European states to refuse access to their respective territories by NATO troops; the regulatory barriers were defined as the set of rules indirectly hindering the alliance's movement, i.e. different national speed limits, police controls, obligation to declare what is shipped, prohibition to use specific roads, etc.

However, the idea for a free movement zone did not get much backing at the time, but the Russian military operation in Ukraine has been used by the NATO establishment to revive the idea by groundlessly fanning an alleged "Russia threat."

In late November, NATO warned its members that existing red tape would be a problem in the event of a hypothetical conflict with Russia, citing Moscow's ongoing special military operation in Ukraine. "We are running out of time," claimed Lieutenant-General Alexander Sollfrank, the chief of NATO's logistics command JSEC, to Reuters. "What we don't get done in peacetime won't be ready in case of a crisis of war."

Per The Times, the alliance's leadership is presently negotiating the creation of military corridors across Europe within the framework of the "military Schengen" system; the results of the talks could be announced before NATO's July summit in Washington.

"I think that the year that we are in, 2024, is very risky because NATO feels an existential threat as a bureaucratic organization," said Gajic. "If Trump wins the elections, he just might get the United States out of NATO."

Comment: Which is why the establishment won't let him win.

During his previous presidential term, Trump repeatedly questioned the rationale behind maintaining the Cold War-era alliance. Per Gajic, NATO leaders would do everything, including all sorts of provocations against Russia, to prevent Trump from exiting the alliance in the event of his victory. The former president has outpaced his peers, emerging as the Republican frontrunner in the 2024 race.

Meanwhile, Moscow repeatedly warned NATO against using provocative rhetoric to justify the creation of a military Schengen.

"The alliance has always regarded our country as a so-called notional adversary. Now it openly considers our country to be an obvious adversary. This [statement] is nothing more than about fanning tensions in Europe which would have consequences," Kremlin spokesman Dmitri Peskov told reporters on November 24. He said Moscow would respond appropriately if a military Schengen proposal became reality.

Gajic noted that it's not the first time that Russia has been demonized to justify the Old Continent's militarism, citing Nazi German leadership and its racist idea of "Asiatic hordes" allegedly threatening Europe. Under the term "Asiatic hordes" the Third Reich propagandists meant the USSR, while touting itself as Europe's defender.

"We see the repeat of the same discourse about how the 'European civilization is endangered by the Asiatic hordes'. They aren't using the word Asiatic today, but they are talking about the 'Eurodefender' or 'Nordic response'. I mean, this whole Nordic wording has to do with the neo-paganism that is closely connected to neo-Nazism on the Ukrainian side of the front. Basically, there are a lot of analogies that are being made with Hitler's Germany by the Western countries, by NATO, namely," the academic said.

"In practice, geopolitically speaking, what NATO is creating is a repetition of a zone where the military force can move freely. And of course, this is very dangerous because of the historical analogies that are quite stark. We'll see what this will bring. But I think that this move is an escalatory one," Gajic stressed.

Meanwhile, NATO kicked off its Steadfast Defender 2024 exercises this month - its largest in decades involving approximately 90,000 troops from 31 allies and Sweden. The drills, which are aimed at showing NATO's ability to "deploy forces rapidly from North America and other parts of the alliance to reinforce the defense of Europe," will continue until May 31 and will take part from the High North to Central and Eastern Europe. Per Gajic, the timing of the Schengen zone talks amid the unfolding drills is by no means coincidental.