Gen. Philip Breedlove, the top military commander of NATO, has warned the organization they need to focus on Russia before he leaves his position at the end of May.
“We see that Russia has not accepted the hand of partnership but has chosen a path of belligerence,” he stated. “We need to readdress where we’re heading.”
Breedlove leaves his position “this month after three years in the top military job at NATO.” His statements come after NATO announced they will send 4,000 troops to the Baltic States – Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia – and Poland.
“The Russians have been doing a lot of snap exercises right up against the borders, with a lot of troops,” Robert Work, the U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defense, told The Wall Street Journal. “From our perspective, we could argue this is extraordinarily provocative behavior.”
For the past two years, Russia and NATO have blamed each other for the buildup of troops on borders. It all began when Ukraine ousted Russian-backed President Viktor Yanukovych on February 22, 2014, and east Ukraine fell into shambles with pro-Russian separatists and Russian soldiers. The situation became worse when Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine.
“We weren’t focused on Russia when I came in three years ago because we were still trying to cast a paradigm that brought Russia into the fold of Western values,” continued Gen. Breedlove. “Russia chose a different path or they were on that path and we didn’t recognize it.”
Breedlove has shown amazing support for Ukraine, who is not in NATO, and the NATO countries surrounding the former Soviet republic. He expressed support for Ukraine and concerns about Russia in speeches and interviews.
In April 2014, Breedlove told the Associated Press he would not rule out U.S. troops to Ukraine and surrounding areas. A year later, Breedlove said he wanted to provide Ukraine with weapons and equipment to its depleted army.
Ukraine inherited old Soviet army equipment after its dissolution. Yanukovych lowered the defense budget under his tenure, which also hampered proper training for the soldiers. Yanukovych used the majority of the money on the internal security services.
Yet, despite the threat and size, Russia’s army does not have the force and advanced technology possessed by the U.S.
“We need to be careful not paint them as 10 feet tall because they’re not, and if we overstate, then we lose credibility,” concluded Gen. Breedlove. “But I’ve also said they may not be 10 feet tall but they’re pretty close to 7 feet tall. Russia has proved itself to be a learning and adaptive military force.”DONATE
Donations tax deductible
to the full extent allowed by law.