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Panel: Ukraine Unrest Remains Major NATO Focus

Pro-Russian separatists at a check point in Kharkiv in Eastern Ukraine on 2014.

The ongoing strife in Ukraine is the on the top of NATO’s agenda in dealing with Russia, agreed alliance representatives from the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom on Wednesday at the Atlantic Council in Washington, D.C.

Because Moscow disregarded established borders and occupied Crimea and then threw itself into arming, equipping and supplying and financially supporting separatists in eastern Ukraine in 2014, the 29 members of the alliance again “will send a strong message of support” to the Kiev government, Kerry Buck of Canada said.

That support is tangible via an “enhanced forward presence” on land in the Baltics, Poland and training elements in Ukraine itself. That support also includes a larger naval presence in the Black Sea to deter future Kremlin aggression in the region.

“It’s about showing Russia there’s no two-tiered deterrence” in the alliance along its eastern and southern flanks, she said.

Kaye Bailey Hutchinson, the U.S. permanent NATO representative and a former senator from Texas, praised Gen. Curtis Scaparotti, commander of allied forces in Europe, for putting more boots on the ground in key parts of the continent from a number of nations, overhauling the alliance’s command structure and paying more attention to the maritime area of deterrence and defense with the creation of a Joint Allied Atlantic Command.

Scaparotti is seeing more Russian naval activity in the Greenland, Iceland United Kingdom Gap in the North Atlantic and now into the Arctic the panel said.

Securing the sea lines of communications and protecting that maritime infrastructure, particularly cables moving vast amounts of commercial and financial data between the continents, is one part of this stepped-up emphasis on deterrence that will be highlighted in the Brussels Summit in July, Sarah MacIntosh, the United Kingdom’s representative, said.

Even though London is withdrawing from the European Union, it remains the second largest contributor to NATO financially and in military support, she said.

NATO Photo

The establishment of a NATO Logistics Command, headquartered in Germany, is a signal to Moscow that “we are hardening our deterrence,” Buck said and ensuring that forces can be moved quickly from one point on the continent to another. Rapid reinforcement and early warning detection have been goals for the alliance since 2014, MacIntosh added and they are being reached. She singled out the cyber operations center as showing a new adaptability in NATO to a changing security environment on the continent and addressing new threats in hybrid warfare from Moscow and other nations, as well as extremist groups in Europe and the Middle East.

It is also beefing up its counterterrorism initiatives in the alliance and with nations in the Middle East and North Africa.

With all these changes since the 2017 summit, plus a new strategy for Afghanistan, “NATO threatens no one,” MacIntosh added. “It is the bedrock of our security.”

Ever since 2014, when Russia ignored the rules-based order in Europe and tried to replace it with its spheres of influence strategy to justify its action in Ukraine and bullying in the Baltics, there has been “a blurring of the lines between war and peace,” Buck said.

In these times with an aggressive Kremlin, a North Korea armed with long-range ballistic missiles possibly capable of carrying nuclear weapons and chemical weapons being used in the Syrian civil war, “alliances matter,” she added.

All three representatives agreed that alliance members are committed to better burden sharing. Eight have reached the two percent threshold of gross domestic spending going toward security. Buck stressed in Canada’s case that spending is being largely put to modernizing its forces.

“The key deliverable will be a strong message of unity, political unity, security unity. It’s about deterrence,” Buck said.

  • D. Jones

    The fellow on the left in the top picture has his rifle pointed at his comrade. Crazy Ivan in the center has his booger hook on the bang switch. Gotta wonder how many casualties in these regional conflicts are negligent discharge related.

  • proudrino

    Hey NATO! The 1990s called. They want their foreign policy back. -Barak Hussein Obama

    We need the NATO of the 1990s in 2018. It really is time that we view such issues as our relationship with peer-to-peer adversaries in the same way we did during the Cold War. A good first step would be to transform NATO into a legitimate obstacle to Russian aggression in Ukraine and other places. For far too long, EU economic concerns about the delivery of natural gas from Russia has trumped actually protecting Western Europe from the Russians. The NATO that once was is exactly what is required now. The irony being, of course, that since 2008 America became less free and more Stalinesque under Obama with a government bureaucracy weaponized to attack political dissenters and outright spying on political opponents.

  • proudrino

    Only the United States, Britain, Greece, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, and Romania meet NATO’s target of spending 2% GDP on defense. Some of America’s biggest critics including Germany are deadbeats when it comes to collective security. One of the loudest messages of unity against Russian aggression would be for these nations to take their NATO obligations seriously.

    • Corporatski Kittenbot 2.0

      For 2 years in a row the UK has actually failed to hit 2%….. and much of the money it includes therein isn’t related to defence.

      I imagine most of the other countries listed similarly fiddle the numbers.

      • Duane

        Nope … UK better than 2% each of the last 2 years, and growing.

        • Corporatski Kittenbot 2.0

          1.97 last year
          1.94 the year before.

          How do I know?
          Because I’m one of the saps here paying for it.

          And it isn’t rising either.
          Treasury are still looking for £16bn – £22bn more in cuts up to 2022.

          • Duane

            Nope … not according to official NATO data. Over 2% both years. The UK continues to spend more on defense than any other member but the US.

          • Corporatski Kittenbot 2.0

            Where do you think NATO gets its “data”?
            That’s right… the MoD….. where else?

            And what has the MoD been doing since 2010?
            That’s right, moving formerly non-defence related expenditures onto “core defence” expenditure, primarily redundancy and pensions & other civil costs.

            But even with that, because the GDP isn’t growing as well as predicted, the proportionate spending is just slightly below 2%…. for 2 years running now.

            The Tories have no intention on increasing funding.

            Just google “uk didn’t spend 2% of gdp”
            Stay in your lane on this one.

          • Duane

            The source is NATO, published on their website.

          • Corporatski Kittenbot 2.0

            Ok lad…. you win.

            What would we know anyway, it’s only our country and our money after all!

          • muzzleloader

            That is Duanne for you, he has to always have the last word on any subject. Never mind that you are British and he is a yank. Lol

          • E1 Kabong

            LOL!

            Where does NATO get that data. Duaney?

          • E1 Kabong

            Nope. Try reading what EXACTLY is being paid for, Duaney.

        • E1 Kabong

          Wrong, as usual Duaney.

          The UK duped folks like YOU into believing they meet the 2% GDP by adding civilian defence employee pensions, war pensions, MI6 and GCHQ budgets to the “defence budget”.

          Do more than read a headline, Duaney.

  • D. Jones

    Stalin would have had 5-year plans to improve LCSki production.

  • James Bowen

    Ukraine is of vital interest to Russia, but why is Ukraine of interest to us?

    • Corporatski Kittenbot 2.0

      Because Ukraine is of vital interest to Ukraine.

    • Duane

      It is of vital American interest to uphold NATO, to protect our friends like Ukraine, and to frustrate our enemies like Putin, Xi, Kim, and the mullahs, every which way and every opportunity we have.

      • tiger

        And what makes them a friend? This like Yugoslavia all over again.

        • E1 Kabong

          Wrong.

          Yugoslavia was a forced marriage of ethnicities.

  • Ed L

    Just dam the Black Sea.

  • Duane

    If Russia were allowed to reconquer Ukraine, while NATO stands by and does nothing as you seem to be OK with, what will stop Russia from moving on to reconquer the rest of the former Warsaw Pact, most of whom are now members of NATO?

    If Putin were to do that, NATO would be destroyed as an alliance, and our largest by far and best equipped ally in the world. Without NATO, and Europe being dominated by Russia, we would be hurting and subject to any kind of blackmail from Putin and his evil thieving and murderous cronies.

    Don’t forget that the Ukrainians handed over a large share of Soviet nukes based there to the US and NATO, thus keeping them out of Russian hands, after the Soviet empire crumbled in 1991 … in exchange for security guarantees that we promised them.

  • Duane

    No the vast majority of Ukrainians want and will fight for continued independence from their former murderous genocidal Russian conquerors. Only a small minority of ethnic Russians that Stalin relocated to eastern Ukraine in his ethnic cleansing campaign in the 1930s and 1940s want Russian murderors ruling their country again. Read a little history.

    • tiger

      So get them to the table. Draw the lines and end the thing. Not feed the fire.

      • Duane

        There is no table. Ukraine is a sovereign nation, and Russia must stop invading it. Real simple.

        • James Bowen

          That statement is a double-edged sword though. Recognizing that Ukraine is a sovereign nation also means the U.S. and our European allies stop trying to pull them away from Russia. A legal pro-Russian government was overthrown by a mob that was egged on by the West. If that isn’t interference in the affairs of a sovereign nation, I don’t know what is.

          • E1 Kabong

            LMAO!

            “…also means the U.S. and our European allies stop trying to pull them away from Russia.”?

            How EXACTLY is that happening?

            Go ahead, and deny the last 70 or so years of Russian invasion, occupation and suppression….

            Not like that had anything to do with ALL those ex-Warsaw Pact countries WILLINGLY and FREELY joining NATO, right?

      • E1 Kabong

        All Russia has to do is leave Ukrainian territory….

  • Corporatski Kittenbot 2.0

    Either you stand with friends, or you don’t,

    You aren’t alone James, “what has it got to do with us” was the refrain in 1917 & 1941 as well

    At least now it isn’t a war.

    • tiger

      Since when do they make the Xmas card list? NATO is moving East. Not Russia moving West.

      • E1 Kabong

        Since when was it illegal for a country to join NATO?

        Seems all those ex-Warsaw Pact countries didn’t like their experience being invaded and occupied for DECADES and don’t want it to happen again.

        Why is Russia bullying the Baltic states?

  • Duane

    There is no breaking away. Ukraine is a sovereign nation with undisputed borders. Russia is an invader who must stop invading.

    Under your theory, the US and China ought to aid the Siberians in “breaking away” from Russia. No difference.

  • Duane

    The Russians conquered Ukraine and committed vast scale genocide on them in the 1930s. The Ukrainians are not Russians. They do not want to pe part of Russia. The Ukrainians deposed the Russian puppet leader a few years ago, making their intention of maintaining independence extremely clear. The entire world except for Putin’s Russia acknowledges Ukrainian independence and sovereignty.

  • E1 Kabong

    Wow…

    Never heard of the Holodomor, I see.

  • E1 Kabong

    Try to keep up.

    Russia DID invade and take over.

    Have you seen the Crimea, lately?

  • E1 Kabong

    Guess Brighton Beach should be turned over to Russia, right?

    • tiger

      Duane, was the standard setter of sovereign states and borderlines.

  • E1 Kabong

    Ukraine is a sovereign nation and can decide for itself what happens in it’s borders.

    Russia can pound salt.

  • E1 Kabong

    So, you’re okay with Russia invading and occupying another country’s land?

    Wow…

  • E1 Kabong

    100% wrong.

    What about Brighton Beach? Winnipeg, MB?

    Should those be handed over to Russia?

  • E1 Kabong

    Any thoughts on why Russia occupied ALL those Eastern European countries for DECADES?

    Ask Finland what their experiences with Russia were like.
    Or Afghanistan.
    Or any ex-Warsaw Pact country.

  • E1 Kabong

    Fail!
    Take a history class.

    Using your deeply flawed logic, Alaska should be invaded by Russia.

  • E1 Kabong

    Wrong.

    Are you drunk or stoned?

    Cite your sources for that steaming pile of bovine excrement.

    The Holodomor was what?

    If you want “the good old days” then Russia needs to give back all the land it stole from Finland and Poland.

    Kaliningrad, for instance…

  • Duane

    You make no sense at all. Off with you.

    • tiger

      Just using your standard.

  • E1 Kabong

    You’re mistaken.

    A lot of those “rebels” are Russian military.

    Using frontline Russian-specific gear, kind of gives it away…

  • E1 Kabong

    Wow…

    “…I have no problem with Russian occupation of the Crimea because they had legitimate strategic concerns…”?

    Guess you’re okay with NATO invading.
    You know, due to “legitimate strategic concerns”.

  • E1 Kabong

    Not for an invading Warsaw Pact army…

  • E1 Kabong

    Excuses, excuses…

  • E1 Kabong

    Sober up and re-read the thread, comrade.

    Those are communities of expat Russians.

    NO different than Russians living in other countries, like the Ukraine.

    Invading one, is okay with you shills, but the other examples aren’t?

  • E1 Kabong

    No one likes Russian wannabe Europeans.

    “…occupied Eastern Europe to use as a buffer zone against Western Europe.”?

    AKA: INVADED and OCCUPIED sovereign nations.

    What is Russia SO afraid of?

    No one wants that sh*thole country.

  • E1 Kabong

    Yeah, no…

    Go read Infonapalm.

    There are Russian military in the Ukraine.

    Speaking of the Crimea….

  • E1 Kabong

    Let’s say, Russia invaded a peaceful, sovereign country…

    Oh, wait!

    They did.

  • E1 Kabong

    Nope.

    Lies.

    Want to chat about the gulags?

  • E1 Kabong

    Yes, they are.

    They are TWO separate countries.

    So Russia should be allowed to invade Alaska?

  • E1 Kabong

    SURE you were….

  • E1 Kabong

    You clearly haven’t been keeping abreast of current events.

    You think it’s a coincidence your pals invaded the ONLY country on its border that wasn’t a NATO member and wasn’t a Russian puppet state?

    Priceless!

  • E1 Kabong

    LOL!

    The Crimea was LEGALLY CEDED to the Ukraine by Khrushchev.

    Go read the Budapest Memorandum

  • E1 Kabong

    Russian military units are occupying Ukrainian territory.

  • E1 Kabong

    Wrong.

    Russia INVADED the Crimea.

    The UN has condemned your pals for it.

  • E1 Kabong

    Why did Russia INVADE a sovereign country?

  • E1 Kabong

    SURE you did…

    What trade?

  • E1 Kabong

    MAYBE?

    Explain why ALL those ex-Warsaw Pact countries jumped at the chance to join NATO.

  • E1 Kabong

    Alaska used to be Russian territory.

    USED to be.

    Same as Crimea.

    You need to go get educated about Nikita Khruschev LEGALLY CEDING the Crimea to the Ukraine, sonny.

    Using your messed up logic, Russia should invade Alaska.

    Poland can invade Kaliningrad now.
    Good to know.

  • E1 Kabong

    Crimea IS Ukrainian territory.

    Thanks for admitting your pals INVADED a sovereign nation.

  • E1 Kabong

    Russia INVADED a sovereign country.

    Guess you’ll be okay when it’s RETAKEN.

    Looks like Poland has all the rights to “protect vital strategic interests” and take back Kaliningrad.

    You can’t blame them, since cowardly Russia has made it the most heavily militarized place in Europe.

  • E1 Kabong

    “…outside of the Crimea.”?

    Which IS Ukrainian territory.

    Just the same as the Eastern Ukraine they invaded.

    Infonapalm is a greAt place to learn some facts.

  • E1 Kabong

    BUSTING you was too easy!

  • E1 Kabong

    LMAO!

    Your messed up thinking sounds like someone saying they are “a little” pregnant.

    Thanks for admitting your pals INVADED a sovereign nation.

  • E1 Kabong

    Thanks for admitting your pals INVADED a sovereign nation.

  • E1 Kabong

    Yes, they did.

    Even the UN sanctioned your pals for it.

    Shooting down an airliner and murdering a few hundred civilians, is a typical, cowardly Russian thing to do.

    Thanks for admitting your pals INVADED a sovereign nation.

  • E1 Kabong

    LMAO!

    Keep squirming….

    SURE you were…

    You FSB drones need to learn some basic facts, if you’re going to lie.

    You STILL haven’t answered the question.

    I could ask you about Bremerton, but that would be way too funny to watch you struggle with.

  • E1 Kabong

    Thanks for admitting your pals INVADED a sovereign nation.

    “So what?”

    Wow…

  • E1 Kabong

    Illegal.

  • E1 Kabong

    Thanks for admitting your pals INVADED a sovereign nation.

    Your Ruskie pals SHOT DOWN a civilian airliner.

    Cowards, the lot.

  • E1 Kabong

    LMAO!

    Show me on the USN site where “division officer” is a trade, poser.

    It takes a special kind of FSB drone to keep squirming after being BUSTED.

  • E1 Kabong

    Again with the squirming…

    Took you long enough to Google that.

  • E1 Kabong

    Thanks for admitting your pals INVADED a sovereign nation.

    NO country has a “valid reason” to INVADE a peaceful country.

  • E1 Kabong

    Wrong.

  • E1 Kabong

    Wrong, suka.

  • E1 Kabong

    Wrong, as usual, suka….

    Thanks for admitting your pals INVADED a sovereign nation.

    Cite those “laws” that make a revolution “illegal”, suka…

  • E1 Kabong

    No facts, merely trolling spew….

    Cite what “laws” your Ruskie, Euro-trash pals were referencing, suka.

    • James Bowen

      Come on, nowhere in the world is it legal for a mob to overthrow a constitutional government.

      • E1 Kabong

        Come on now, show me where that’s written.

        Want to chat about how the USA was created?
        Modern French government?

  • E1-Kabong

    Spam.

    Reported.

    Shoo, suka.

  • E1 Kabong

    You’re trolling, clearly.

    Cite the laws.

    Care to chat about the Russian Revolution?

  • old guy

    This is only a factual statement, not a political one, But, when I was last in RUSSIA (GIDROAVIASALON 2006) the people in Sevasrapol all seemed to agree that the Crimea should be part of Russa.