The Return of Old Enemies | DocFilm | DW | 13.06.2016
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The Return of Old Enemies

Militarization and mutual suspicion are hallmarks of the Cold War. But as tension between Russia and the West grows, so does the fear of a return to old enmities. How dangerous could the resulting showdown be?

NATO leaders are due to hold a summit in Warsaw next month. The Polish capital is a poignant setting for such a gathering, as it was here that the Soviet Union forged its own defense treaty as a counterweight to NATO in 1955. More than six decades later, Poland and the three Baltic states are asking the military alliance for greater assistance in combating what they perceive as a growing threat from Russia. Moscow on the other hand, is worried about NATO’s mounting presence in its neighboring territory.

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NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg: “Strong defense and strong deterrence is something we think is very important, not because we want to provoke a war but because we want to prevent a war.”

Baltic Angst

Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014 left its western neighbors on edge. One of the questions occupying worried minds is whether the Russian minorities in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania could serve as a catalyst to further territorial expansion. Could the so-called little green men, who appeared in unmarked uniforms during the annexation of Crimea, make their way to the Baltics too? This documentary takes viewers to the cities of Tallinn, Narva and Riga to find out.

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Military education: Russia has introduced a military training program to schools.

Military Training and Propaganda

The increasing tension between East and West is being felt keenly in Poland, where demand for military training has increased. In Russia, Vladimir Putin is re-introducing military education to schools. This documentary examines the trend in both countries. It also explores the role that Russia’s anti-Western propaganda plays in escalating tensions. We visit the Sputnik news agency in Moscow and show how its propaganda is being received as far away as the central German city of Erfurt.

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On the defensive: Germany has started to modernize its Cold War-era tanks.

Turning Point for Germany

Last year Germany significantly increased its defense budget for the first time since the Cold War. In an apparent response to Russia’s military development and the conflict in eastern Ukraine, it is now preparing to cooperate with France to develop a successor to the Leopard 2, its Cold War-era tank. The current tension bears similarities to the Cold War. But could it herald the beginning of an equally dangerous era? The answer to that question is especially sobering.

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