NATO’s Luftwaffe More Than an Echo of Nazi Operation Barbarossa

If they were around, Joseph Goebbels, Hermann Goering and Adolf Hitler would be cheering on their NATO incarnation – albeit 82 years too late.

The NATO military alliance holds its largest-ever air force maneuvers since the bloc was formed 74 years ago. From June 12-23, the German Luftwaffe will lead the massive mobilization across the Baltic territories and Central Europe in an undisguised provocation to Russia.

The United States will deploy the most warplanes out of the 25 participating NATO partners. But Germany is the lead nation for the drills.

What’s even more provocative, the date for the so-called Air Defender 23 exercises falls on the 82nd anniversary of Operation Barbarossa. On June 21, 1941, Nazi Germany and its Axis allies launched the biggest military invasion in history, against the Soviet Union. That invasion turned out to be a military disaster for Germany, heralding its historic defeat nearly four years later, along with horrific suffering and millions of deaths.

It’s not just the dates that provide an uncannily grim echo. The sinister symbolism today of the German balkenkreuz (Teutonic cross) emblazoned on warplanes flying close to Russia’s border is reinforced by the participation of many of the Third Reich’s former Axis allies in the present day. Finland and the Baltic territories were the staging post for Hitler’s master plan to conquer Russia and carry out its Final Solution of genocidal extermination.

Meanwhile, on the ground in Ukraine, German Leopard tanks also bearing the balkenkreuz are today pounding Russian forces from Ukrainian territory, which also served as the invasion path for Operation Barbarossa. So far, many of these modern German tanks have been destroyed in today’s battles, which does not bode well for NATO’s sponsored Ukrainian counteroffensive.

Of course, Air Defender 23 pales by comparison of scale with 1941. NATO’s warplanes flying in exercises over Germany and the Baltics number 250 with a total military personnel of 10,000 taking part. In Operation Barbarossa, the number of aircraft was at least 10-fold greater and involved up to 4 million ancillary soldiers. Nevertheless, the symbolism is conspicuous and staggering for anyone with a keen sense of history. Amazingly, no Western media have made any historical reference to Barbarossa, not even in brief passing. Then again, that’s not that amazing when you consider the Western media’s role is to propagandize this war against Russia.

And it’s not simply a mere symbolic historic echo, appalling though that is of itself. The NATO leaders are increasingly openly talking about the objective of “crushing Russia”. The air mobilization over the next fortnight is billed as rehearsing offensive scenarios against Russia.

The timing of the NATO-sponsored ground offensive beginning last week in Ukraine in conjunction with the unprecedented deployment of air power this week has the hallmarks of a real contingency plan to catapult the proxy war in Ukraine to an all-out war between nuclear powers.

The deployment of nuclear-capable warplanes by the United States and its NATO allies is matched by the move by Russia to install tactical nuclear weapons in neighboring Belarus next to Poland and the Baltic states. Moscow and Minsk are roundly condemned in the Western media for that move. But there is hardly any mention by the same media of the hundreds of tactical nukes that Washington has stationed in Germany, Belgium, Netherlands, Italy, and Turkey. The NATO drills this week will involve rehearsing their launch against Russia and Belarus.

At a time when Washington and the NATO powers should be urgently exploring diplomacy to de-escalate the war in Ukraine, the U.S.-led NATO alliance is criminally fueling ever more conflict. The staging of Air Defender 23 and its stated aim to show force to Russia is a reckless lurch toward the abyss. An elite Western political class is inciting war despite growing Western public opposition to relentless NATO military support for Ukraine.

Such diplomatic effort is premised, however, on the vain assumption that the United States and NATO are interested in finding a political resolution with Russia. But evidently, the Western powers are not interested in that. They are motivated by defeating Russia.

This week, NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg called for victory over Russia during a meeting with U.S. President Joe Biden in Washington. Elsewhere, in Paris, the French, German and Polish leaders explicitly said the objective of the war in Ukraine is to “crush Russia”.

When the NATO alliance was formed in 1949 – it was a mere four years after the routing of the Third Reich largely by the Soviet Union’s Red Army. The bloc was created by Washington and London along with the remnants of Nazi Germany and its European collaborators for the purpose of fighting the next war against the Soviet Union. By “next war” we really mean the continuation of WWII.

The collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 and the supposed end of the five-decade-old Cold War did not produce world peace. Far from it. NATO wars proliferated and now finally have converged on Russia. That’s because NATO’s mission was always about an aggressive projection of Western imperialist power. The relentless expansion of NATO forces since 1991 all the way up to Russia’s borders is proof of that.

The Soviet Union was not actually the definitive enemy of Western imperialism. The definitive enemy can be identified as any nation that does not prostrate itself as a vassal in order for Western capital to have free rein to ruthlessly exploit. Russia, China, and the other nations that do not conform with the U.S.-led “world order” are necessarily deemed to be enemies that must be targeted, sanctioned, menaced, and ultimately vanquished. History is at that inherent and compulsive war stage again.

Nazi Germany was a Western imperialist attack dog whose mission was to barbarically ravage the Soviet Union on behalf of the Western capitalist powers, which had covertly and often overtly funded the build-up of Germany’s war machine during the 1930s and early 40s. Ford, General Motors, DuPont, IBM, Wall Street Banks and the Bank of England, were just some of the Nazi industrial partners and financiers. The subsequent temporary alliance during World War Two between the United States, Britain and the Soviet Union was merely an expedient arrangement for the West to eliminate its German attack dog that had gone rogue with its own ambitions.

When that war was over (or more accurately, arrested), it was then back to the real imperial business of pursuing hostilities by other means against Moscow in order to eliminate any international geopolitical obstacle to Western imperialism, as well as to exploit the greatest earthly reserves of natural resources under Russian soil.

In this perspective, Hitler’s “lebensraum” plans for Russian conquest were merely taken over by the Western powers who were – thanks to Western media deception and revisionism – deftly able to dissemble their criminal imperialism with a facade of “democracy”, “human rights”, “law and order”, and latterly, “rules-based order”.

In short, NATO’s ever-culminating war moves against Russia are a continuation of Operation Barbarossa, not an echo. Air Defender 23 just sounds more palatable – as with so much Western rhetoric and platitudes.

Agnes Strack-Zimmerman, Germany’s parliamentary defense committee chairwoman, reportedly said of the Air Defender 23 war drills this week: “History has caught up with us. We have a hot war in Ukraine.”

This warmongering German politician seemed to be oblivious to just how profound her words could be construed. She, like other Western politicians, pundits and media, portrays the Ukraine conflict with fairytale simplicity as a “defense against Russian aggression”.

No doubt, if they were around, Joseph Goebbels, Hermann Goering and Adolf Hitler would be cheering on their NATO incarnation – albeit 82 years too late.

The views of individual contributors do not necessarily represent those of the Strategic Culture Foundation.