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.
To read The Post article, please hit this link.
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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U.S. Navy Secretary Ray Mabus said that the United States will maintain its military presence in the Black Sea despite, in Reuters’s words, “a Russian warning that a U.S. destroyer patrolling there undermined regional security.”
The USS Porter entered the Black Sea this month, drawing heavy criticism from Moscow. Turkey and Romania are expected to seek a bigger NATO presence in the sea at the NATO summit in Warsaw next month.
Mr. Mabus told Reuters that it was the U.S. Navy’s job to deter aggression, presumably meaning Russian aggression, and keep international sea lanes open.
Relations between Russia and NATO have been very strained over Moscow’s attack on Ukraine and military support of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad.
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(June 13th, 2016) Tensions between NATO and Russia, already high, have gone a bit higher with the vaguely threatening remarks by the Russian Foreign Ministry that Russian leader Vladimir Putin would respond to a U.S. Navy destroyer’s entry into the Black Sea with unspecified measures, Reuters and other news media report. Turkey, Romania and Bulgaria, all of which border on the Black Sea, are members of NATO.
Russian state media reported that the USS Porter, a U.S. naval destroyer, entered the Black Sea a few days ago, a move that state media said angered Moscow because the warship was recently fitted with a new missile system.
U.S. Navy officials told reporters on June 8 that the U.S. would also have two aircraft carriers in the Mediterranean this month ahead of a July NATO summit in Warsaw as Washington continues to seek to address Russia’s intensifying military activities in eastern Europe and Syria.
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(June 13th, 2016) An increasingly militaristic and aggressive Russia is building new military sites along what the Kremlin sees as its western frontline in a growing confrontation with NATO.
At the same time the NATO alliance is staging major military exercises and increasing deployments on its eastern flank in response to Russian aggression against Ukraine and threatening actions by the Russian air force over and near the Baltic Sea.
Russia and NATO member states share borders around the Baltic Sea; further south Ukraine and Belarus separate the two blocs.
Russia has pulled out of the treaty on Conventional Forces in Europe, a post-Cold War pact that limits the deployment of troops in Europe. This makes it feel freer to move extra troops and military equipment to its western border.
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(June 13th, 2016) NATO’s largest war game in Europe since the end of the old Cold War is underway in Poland, as alliance members seek to show strength in response to concerns about Russia’s aggression.
NATO allies have welcomed the 10-day military exercise, involving 31,000 troops and thousands of vehicles from 24 countries, although some defense experts warn that any mishap/miscalculation could prompt an offensive reaction from Moscow.
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(June 6th, 2016) As Russia becomes more aggressive and implies that it might attack NATO with tactical nuclear weapons, the leadership of the alliance is trying to encourage deadbeat members to step up and pay more attention to the threat from Vladimir Putin’s aggressive dictatorship.
NATO’s leadership is trying to get all member nations to spend at least 2 percent of their GDP on defense, which is the long-established but often ignored guideline.
There has been a gradual move toward higher NATO defense spending since Russia seized Crimea from Ukraine, attacked the eastern part of that nation, harassed NATO ships and planes in the Baltic, unleashed cyberattacks against NATO members and showed its growing war-making expertise in its highly effective bombing to help Syrian dictator Bashir Assad.
Still, a few NATO members continue to cut defense spending. And while the alliance is carrying more military training and planning exercises in eastern and central Europe, they are little compared to what the Russians are doing. Read this New York Times story.