NATO has warned its member states that excessive bureaucratic red tape is hindering the movement of troops across Europe in the event of a possible war with Russia, said the chief of NATO's logistics command JSEC, Lieutenant-General Alexander Sollfrank, in an interview with Reuters.
"We are running out of time. What we don't get done in peacetime won't be ready in case of a crisis or a war," Sollfrank stated.
"The expanse of space, the fact that not all forces are forward-based – all this means that the alliance has to be quick in moving troops from their bases to the right spot on the eastern flank," said Sollfrank, adding that this requires appropriate training.
He noted that at the height of the war in Ukraine, Russia was firing 50,000 artillery shells per day, and these shells still have to reach the howitzers.
"So you have to set up warehouses – for ammunition, fuel, spare parts and provisions," he stressed.
He believes NATO forces now have to be guided by various national rules, starting from the advance notice required for sending ammunition, and ending with the permissible length of military convoys and disease prevention.
"We have a surplus of regulations, but the one thing we don't have is time. Russia's war against Ukraine has proven to be a war of attrition – and a war of attrition is a battle of logistics," warned Admiral Rob Bauer, head of the NATO Military Committee.
Sollfrank said he would like to see a "military Schengen", a free military transit zone similar to the political Schengen zone, which allows free movement within much of the EU.
He noted that NATO should not encourage Russia to miscalculate, creating the impression that Moscow may have a chance to win due to the Alliance's unpreparedness, he warned.
"We need to be ahead of the curve. We have to prepare the theatre well before Article 5 has been invoked," he said, referring to NATO's collective defense clause, which "effectively puts the alliance at war."
Following the NATO summit in Vilnius, the G7 countries adopted a declaration on security guarantees that should apply before Ukraine joins NATO.
President's Office assures that the security guarantees received by Ukraine will not be like Budapest-2.
On Wednesday, the European Union said it was working on a document that will ensure the obligations of member states in the field of security vis-a-vis Ukraine.