In an interview with Europa Libera Romania on Feb. 1, Romanian Chief of Defense Gheorghita Vlad urged Romania and Europe to better prepare for a potential war with Russia, warning that Russia will continue its escalation if it is successful in Ukraine.
"The Russian Federation has become a problem for the world order, for democracy. In fact, it is a war of Russia with the democratic world. It is not a war with Ukraine," said Vlad, Romania's highest-ranking military officer.
Vlad, who was recently appointed Chief of Defense in November 2023, said he believes that Russia "will not stop" at Ukraine.
"If (Russian President Vladimir Putin) wins in Ukraine, the main target will be the Republic of Moldova. We will witness tensions in the Western Balkans. I am more than convinced that President Putin's policy will escalate in the immediate future."
Vlad's comments come as European and NATO officials have warned in recent weeks civilians in NATO countries should be prepared for the prospect of an all-out war with Russia. Although there is little consensus as to when Russia may launch an attack against Europe, NATO officials warned a military confrontation could occur within the next 20 years.
Other NATO commanders and alliance leaders have warned in increasingly stark terms about the dangers of such a war, indicating it could occur as soon as within the next three years.
NATO officials believe that Russia may target a NATO alliance member in Eastern Europe, including countries such as Poland, Estonia, Romania, and Lithuania.
While the prospect of the war escalating to an all-out clash between the alliance and Russia has so far been averted, there are concerns that the West has not truly accepted that it may still be a possibility.
Echoing these sentiments, General Vlad urged NATO countries to replenish arms stocks while prepare their population for escalatory aggression from Russia.
"We need to discuss a policy for preparing the population," said Vlad, referring to held up Romanian legislation that seeks introduce voluntary military training for Romanians aged 18 to 35.
Earlier this week, NATO officials warned that there are still some issues in preparations for conflict that could hinder an appropriate response from NATO, such as problems with the interchangeability of NATO equipment and personnel.
Vlad confirmed that Romania currently has 80,000 professional soldiers in its military and aims to increase that number to around 120,000 active personnel. Vlad also noted that Romania's military reserves have remained at the levels seen in 2007.