Future of Europe – defence: can the EU actually protect itself against Russia?

In a former British Army camp in northern Germany, tanks are on manoeuvre. Officers watch from a metal gantry as orange flashes light up the heath and the sound of live firing reverberates in the distance.

The German army is training on the latest upgrade of its Leopard 2 battle tanks, but this is no ordinary military unit. The crews operating the tanks are a mix of German and Dutch soldiers all operating under a single command, in what has been called a German attempt to create a European army.

This is no mere joint-training exercise. The Dutch soldiers are fully integrated into the German army’s 414 Tank Battalion, and live and work with their German counterparts. Dutch soldiers take orders…

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