So...old Europe finally realises daemoneoconic bona fides were totally correct after all!
European powers in recent years have shelved entire divisions and weapons systems. The British Royal Navy doesn't operate a proper aircraft carrier. The Netherlands in 2012 disbanded its heavy-armor division, and France and the U.K. each now field a mere 200 main battle tanks. France has cut its orders of Rafale combat jets to six a year from 11. This isn't even a Maginot Line.Pic - "And then there's 44's nonserious chiz"
Most alliance members are also dangerously demobilized: Germany last year announced plans to cut its troops to no more than 180,000 from 545,000 at the end of the Cold War. The French military has shrunk to 213,000 from 548,000 in 1990. The U.K. now has 174,000 armed forces, down from 308,000 in 1990.
NATO countries have also been deferring maintenance of major equipment and cutting back weapons inventories. Such neglect, normally hidden, became apparent in 2011 when Britain and France ran out of precision-guided munitions during NATO's Libya campaign.
Russia takes military matters seriously. The Putin regime has increased defense spending 79% over the past decade, according to a Brookings study. Defense expenditures amounted to 4.5% of Russian GDP in 2012, the World Bank reports. After a period of post-Cold War neglect, Moscow has been closing its capability gaps, including the upgrade of its Soviet-era fleet of military-transport aircraft and interceptor jets. Russia's state-run media celebrated these developments a few weeks before Mr. Putin's Crimean incursion.
Justifying cuts to Germany's military budget, then-German Defense Minister Thomas de Maiziere predicted in May 2013 that "it is more likely the Bundeswehr will in future be employed in areas of crisis and conflict around the world than in defending the country."
Such thinking warms Mr. Putin's heart—and may increase his territorial appetite.