ACTION ALERT: Fight Corona Outbreak by Halting Global War Games

March 15th, 2020 - by Activists for Peace and

Cancel All Military Exercises in Europe and the World after Corona Outbreak

Activists for Peace and

Activists for Peace started this petition to Kanzlerin der Bundesrepublik Deutschland Angela Merkel (CDU)

 (March 10, 2020) — We call for cancellation of all large-scale military exercises in Europe and elsewhere. To continue carrying out the largest combination of training of military in a war situation in 25 years is damaging our capacity of addressing the Corona crisis. From the Arctic Sea along the border of Russia all the way to Georgia this combination of simultaneous exercises under names as Defender 20 in Central in Eastern Europe and Aurora 20 in Sweden must be stopped together with military exercises elsewhere.

The exercise Cold Response 2020 in Norway with 14 000 soldiers from Belgium, Denmark, France, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, UK and USA was cancelled March 11. It was announced by Lieutenant General Rune Jakobsen, Chief of the operational staff at the Joint Operative Headquarters, at a press conference were he stated: “What is new since yesterday is that the corona virus is out of control in society. We want to preserve the armed forces’ ability to fight so that we are able to support society in the complex period that will follow”.

This response came late. When the exercise already had started, a soldier was tested positive for Coronavirus on March 5. Finland withdraw their soldiers already March 8.

On March 10, at least two top European military commanders tested positive for corona after they, together with other senior military representatives, attended a conference on an American military base in Germany. During the meeting it was discussed how to protect soldiers participating in Defender Europe 20 form the corona virus. No decisions were made.

Countries like China, Singapore and South Korea show that it is possible to stop the growth of number of people infected by the corona virus by acting fast and decisive. Unfortunately, Italy and some other countries did not. Today China helps Italy by sending medical experts and offering 10 000 pulmonary ventilators, 2 million face masks, and 20 000 protective suits. This gesture is gratefully received in Italy after EU members failed to respond to Italy’s request for urgent assistance.

We call for a change in the way Europe and others worldwide address vulnerability. Rather than starting an arms race and foment enemy images we see the need of cooperation across borders. What we need is peace and welfare to address the common threats to our health, social security and global environment. Not as Western State leaders at the Munich security conferences make China and Russia their adversary.

The large scale exercises bringing together tens of thousands of soldiers from different countries as part of a drastic increase in military expenditure show how out of touch with today’s realities the present policies are. These exercises not only pose and immediate threat in terms of risk for disseminating the corona virus, they are also a misuse of our common resources for addressing the problems in the world today.

What we need is not further escalation and polarization between West and East but addressing of social, health and environmental concerns of importance to all of humanity.

This Is Why We Say:

•   Stop Defender 20, Aurora 20 and other large scale military exercises in Europe and elsewhere

•   End rearmament and invest in peace, welfare, health and the environment

•   If you agree on our call to cancel all military exercises in Europe and elsewhere, please sign this petition

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Defender Europe 20 Resources

NATO’s official information about Defender Europe 2020

Hudson, Kate: “US to practice invasion in Europe”. Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, 10 February 2020

Wagner, Jürgen: “Großmanöver Defender 2020” (In German. English translation of the title: “Huge maneuver Defender 2020“). IMI, 10 January 2020

AP: “US, European Military Commanders Possibly Exposed to Virus“, New York Times, 10 March 2020.

Official information about Aurora20 from Swedish Armed Forces

Görgü, Kemal, Nordlund, Harald and Sevéus Harald: “Krigsförberedelser eller fredspolitik?”. (In Swedish. English translation of the title: “War preparations or peace politics?“). Uppsala Nya Tidning – debatt, 23 February 2020

Woody, Christopher “Finland pulled troops from an Artic military exercise with the US and 8 other countries over coronavirus concerns”. Business Insider, 8 March 2020

Bakkemo Danilov, Peder: “Cold Response 2020 cancelled”. High North News, 11 March 2020.

Nielsen, Thomas: “Norway cancels Cold Response due to coronavirus outbreak”. The Barents Observer, 11 March 2020.

China helps Italy to fight its coronavirus outbreak

Boffey, Daniel: “Italy criticises EU for being slow to help over coronavirus epidemic”. The Guardian, 11 March 2020.

CGTN “Italy Criticizes EU for not responding its call for help, ´only China responded bilaterally´“. CGTN, 12 March 2020.

Hume, Tim: “China Is Now Sending Doctors, Masks and Hazmat Suits to Help Italy With Its Coronavirus Outbreak”, Vice News, 11 march 2020.

Wu, Wendy: “China sends team of medical experts, gear to help Italy fight coronavirus”. South China Morning Post, 11 March 2020.

US, European Military Commanders Possibly Exposed to Virus

Commander of US Army Europe Lt. Gen. Christopher Cavoli — one of two top US officers sidelined by coronavirus.

David Rising / Associated Press

BERLIN (March 10, 2020) — At least two top European military commanders tested positive for the new coronavirus after a conference on an American military base in Germany, and the commander of US Army Europe has isolated himself in case he also was exposed, officials said Tuesday.

Lt. Gen. Christopher Cavoli and several staff members from the US garrison in the German city of Wiesbaden went into self-isolation “out of an abundance of caution and following recommended protocols,” US Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy said Monday.

The possible exposure occurred at a meeting Friday at a land forces commander’s conference that US Army Europe hosted in Wiesbaden, spokesman John Tomassi confirmed Tuesday.

Tomassi would not say who was thought to have been carrying the virus at the time of the conference, but two participants have since said they tested positive for it.

The infection was commander of Poland’s armed forces, Gen. Jaroslaw Mika, was found infected once he returned home, the Polish Defense Ministry said.

The ministry said Mika, 57, feels well and that everyone with him on the trip to Wiesbaden has been quarantined.

For most people, the new coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, though for some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia.

According to the World Health Organization, people with mild COVID-19 disease recover in about two weeks and those with more severe illnesses may take three to six weeks to recover, but the vast majority of patients will recover.

Italy’s RAI television quoted Italian army Chief of Staff General Salvatore Farina saying he also was “fine” after testing positive for the virus upon his return from the conference.

“I am in isolation in my apartment, in compliance with the directives issued by the government authorities and with the health protocols,” Farina said.

He said authorities were looking to identify people with whom he had contact in the past few days.

The coronavirus outbreak was not an agenda item of the annual gathering in Germany, but it came up in the context of how to protect the thousands of Americans and other troops gathering in Europe for the Defender Europe 20 exercise, Tomassi said.

“Right now, there’s no impact to Defender 20 that we have determined,” he said. “But that could change any day, and we’re monitoring and continuing to evaluate the situation.”

The US Army Europe-hosted conference in Wiesbaden brought together 24 senior military representatives from NATO, the European Union, Belgium, Canada, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Georgia, Great Britain, Hungary, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Romania and the United States.

Monika Scislowska in Poland, Jan M. Olsen in Copenhagen, and Robert Burns in Washington contributed to this story.Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes