The United States does not want to make Russia an enemy. It is not seeking to have another Cold War or a hot battle with the Russian government. However, the United States will not allow Moscow to re-create a Soviet-era control in Europe, according to Defense Secretary Ash Carter.
During his speech in Berlin on Monday, Carter said, “We do not seek a cold, let alone a hot war with Russia. We do not seek to make Russia an enemy. But make no mistake; we will defend our allies, the rules-based international order, and the positive future it affords us.”
Carter added, “We will stand up against Russia’s actions and their attempts to re-establish as Soviet Era sphere of influence.
Carter made his remarks after his meeting with the defense ministers of Germany, Norway and the Netherlands regarding the continued commitment of the United States to defend its allies in Europe against security threats.
The United States Defense Secretary is traveling to several countries in Europe, and his first stop was Germany. Carter’s primary purpose on his trip is to discuss with NATO allies the best strategies for them to be able to deal with Russia following its annexation of Crimea and escalating aggression in Europe.
Last week, President Vladimir Putin recently announced that Russia is increasing its nuclear arsenal with more than 40 intercontinental ballistic missiles this year. He also previously stated that “Russia is the most powerful nuclear nations.” Putin’s remarks triggered fears of a potential World War 3.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg noted that Russia increased its defense spending, particularly in nuclear capability. He commented, “This nuclear sabre-rattling of Russia is unjustified, it’s destabilizing, and it’s dangerous.”
United States to provide high-end military equipment for NATO
Carter announced that the United States would provide high-end military equipment, intelligence, logistics, and special operations forces for NATO’s rapid response force to prevent in part any future threats from Russia, and violence from extremist groups.
The United States would also provide surveillance capabilities, logistics, transport aircraft, and a range of weapons support including bombers, fighters and ship-based missiles for NATO.
Carter revealed the details of the United States’ new contributions for NATO after his meeting with his counterparts from Germany, Norway and Netherlands.
Last year, the United States promised support for NATO’s Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF) but did no provide specific details. At the time, Germany, Norway, and Netherlands agreed to provide initial troops for the task force. He urged Germany and other European countries to fulfill the promises they made during the NATO summit in Wales last year and to increase their investments in defense.
Russia prompted NATO allies to develop new military actions including massive exercises and the creation of the VJTF following Russia’s intervention in Ukraine and buildup of its defense and nuclear capabilities.
Moscow denied the accusations of the United States and its allies that it was providing military support to the pro-Russian separatists fighting in eastern Ukraine. NATO member countries including Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania are worried that Russia might invade their territories.
United States is deeply committed to defending Europe
Carter pointed out that the United States is providing military support for NATO because it is “deeply committed to the collective defense of Europe.”
Carter emphasized that NATO “will not rely on the Cold War playbook” instead it would use a combination of military and non-military strategies including sanctions. He added that a new playbook for NATO included dealing with Russia’s aggression while recognizing its critical role in the nuclear negotiations with Iran and fight against Islamic State militants.
Carter encouraged Europe to maintain its sanctions, which he considers that best tools to change Russia’s calculations. He also pointed out that the United States will not allow Russia to drag us back to the past.
Europe extended economic sanctions against Russia
Meanwhile, the European Union (EU) extended the economic sanctions against Russia for another six months until January 31, 2016. The decision was made to ensure the implementation of the Minsk Agreement.
The EU sanctions includes restrictions on lending to Russian state-owned banks and oil companies. Belgium also implemented restrictions on the supply of military equipment, military technology and dual-use technologies to Russia.
In response, Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev instructed his chief of staff to ask President Putin to extend Russia’s counter-sanctions against EU.
“I propose that restrictive measures on imports of certain food products to Russia be renewed,” said Medvedev.