Fact Check: NATO Official Did NOT Warn Civilians To Prepare For Total War With Russia


  • de: Ioana Burtea
Fact Check: NATO Official Did NOT Warn Civilians To Prepare For Total War With Russia Fact Check: NATO Official Did NOT Warn Civilians To Prepare For Total War With Russia Won't Attack

Did NATO's Chair of the Military Committee, Admiral Rob Bauer, advise civilians in member states to brace for total war with Russia and stockpile essentials? No, that's not true. Bauer, responding to journalists after a January 2024 NATO conference preceding major military drills, stressed the necessity of these exercises, emphasizing that member states should "expect the unexpected" in potential conflicts over the next 20 years.

The claim originated from a video (archived here) published on TikTok by user @tonyberbece on January 20, 2024, with a Romanian caption, translated into English by Lead Stories staff, that reads: "Official warning from NATO, we need to pray and repent."

It opened, as translated:

Top generals and admirals of NATO warned civilians in member states to prepare for a sudden war. They told us to have lanterns, batteries, water, non-perishable foods, all these things we would need in case of an attack. So, we are alert. This is not an appeal from unauthorized persons who might want to scare us - no. NATO's message was clear: prepare.

This is what the post looked like on TikTok at the time of writing:

Screenshot 2024-01-26 at 10.18.12.png

(Source: TikTok screenshot taken on Fri Jan 26 07:27:55 2024 UTC)

Admiral Rob Bauer addressed the media following the Military Committee in Chiefs of Defence meeting (archived here) held on January 17, 2024, in Brussels. This statement came ahead of NATO's most extensive military exercises since the end of the Cold War (archived here).

He did not state that NATO is preparing for war with Russia or that civilians should be ready for war at this time. Instead, he emphasized the concept of "expecting the unexpected" (archived here) regarding potential conflicts in the Western world over the next two decades.

In the video, which was also posted on NATO's website (archived here), at minute 33:15, Bauer said:

Not everything is plannable, not everything is going to be hunky-dory in the next 20 years. I'm not saying it is going wrong tomorrow, but we have to realize it's not a given that we are at peace. And that's why we have the plans, that's why we are preparing for a conflict with Russia and the terror groups, if it comes to it, if they attack us.

Bauer stressed that NATO had no intentions of initiating conflicts, and Steadfast Defender 2024, the major military exercise (archived here), was solely in preparation for a possible event of member states facing an attack.

  Ioana Burtea

Ioana Burtea has worked in journalism for over 15 years. She started her career at Mediafax news agency in Bucharest and has written for DoR magazine for over seven years. Her collaborations include publications like Europe & Me, New Eastern Europe, Balkan Insight and Washington Post. Ioana published pieces on the justice system in Romania, social affairs, politics and personal essays. In 2018, she became a fellow of the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network. In 2021, she received the first prize in the Portrait category at the national Superscrieri journalism awards. Her first non-fiction book, Fara instructiuni de folosire (transl. No operating instructions), was launched in 2023. 

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