America’s NATO allies, already dealing with an aggressive Russia, the rise of nativist populism and the possible effects of Brexit, became even more worried this week when they read Donald J. Trump say that the United States might not come to the defense of NATO allies that do not foot their share of joint-defense bills as mandated by agreements but often ignored by European governments.
American officials have pressed European countries in recent years to increase military spending in line with their commitments to NATO, but Mr. Trump much more explicitly has linked financial considerations to the strategic response he would order as president in the event of an attack by Russia.
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U.S. and other NATO forces, working with an increasingly well trained and effective Afghan military, are making considerable progress against the Taliban insurgency.
The Washington Post reports: “The operations are part of a broader effort by Afghan forces, backed by increasing U.S airstrikes, to treat the Taliban more as a foreign enemy than as a domestic insurgent group worthy of some military restraint, according to Afghan officials and analysts. As a result, they say, there are signs the Taliban is under strain this summer while Afghan security forces, at least the elite ones, are finally becoming a battle-ready force.”
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Russian President Vladimir Putin warned on July 1 that Russia might move its troops closer to the Finnish-Russian border if Finland joins NATO. Finland, Poland and the Baltic Republics have been subjected to Russian air force and naval incursions and cyberattacks by the increasingly aggressive Putin administration.
Finnish armed forces “would become part of NATO’s military infrastructure, which overnight would be at the borders of the Russian Federation,” Mr. Putin said after meeting with Finnish President Sauli Niinisto.
“Do you think we will keep it as it is: our troops at 1,500 (kilometers, 900 miles) away?”
Mr. Putin was making his first visit to Finland since Russian seized Crimea from Ukraine and attacked the eastern part of that country.
The technically neutral but basically pro-NATO Finland and Sweden are increasing their co-operation with NATO in light of Russian threats..
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The Washington Post reports that Israel and Turkey have agreed to repair ties “after six years of strained relations over a deadly Israeli raid on a Turkish ship delivering aid to Gaza in 2010, officials said Monday. Ten Turkish activists were killed in the assault.”
The Post noted: “The rapprochement has potential wide-reaching security and economic ramifications in the region. Turkey and Israel once shared close military cooperation, and they have common worries over the Islamic State and other war-driven instability in Syria, which borders Turkey and the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.”
The Post did not speculate on the effects on Russia but it must be noted that NATO-member Turkey, while in the past few days trying to repair ties with Russia after it shot down a Russian jet last year, remains very suspicious of Russian intentions in the Mideast, even as Israel remains a close of ally of the U.S.
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The New York Times reports that “there is a widespread recognition that the Western alliance has yet to develop a strategy” to counter Russia’s increasingly aggressive actions against NATO members in cyberspace.
“While there are frequent conferences and papers, there are no serious military plans, apart from locking down the alliance’s own networks. Russia, China and Iran have increasingly sophisticated offensive cyberforces; NATO has none, and no established mechanism to draw on United States Cyber Command or its British equivalent.”
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