The newly minted Supreme Allied Commander of NATO said Thursday that the alliance needs to be prepared to “fight tonight” against a “resurgence Russia,” if need be.
U.S. Army Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti’s comments came during a speech after he assumed his new responsibilities as the new commander of U.S. European Command and NATO forces in a ceremony at NATO headquarters in Belgium. His speech focused on the need for NATO forces to maintain its agility in order to counter a “resurgent Russia striving to project itself as a world power.”
“To address these challenges, we must continue to maintain and enhance our levels of readiness and our agility in the spirit of being able to fight tonight if deterrence fails,” said Scaparrotti.
Scaparrotti’s concerns mirror those of this predecessor, Air Force Gen. Philip Breedlove, who warned in an interview Sunday that Russia’s aggression is likely to increase, and the U.S. and its allies must be prepared to take a new stance.
“We see that Russia has not accepted the hand of partnership but has chosen a path of belligerence,” said Breedlove to the Wall Street Journal. “We need to readdress where we’re heading.”
NATO General Secretary Jens Stoltenberg, who was also in attendance at the ceremony, noted that the alliance has entered “a new era of uncertainty,” but that “NATO is ready and up to the challenge.”
Russian threats have been an increasingly prevalent problem for NATO for several years, starting with Russia’s 2014 intervention in Ukraine and subsequent annexation of Crimea. In response, NATO suspended the NATO Russia Council while the U.S. began to apply sanctions on Russian President Vladimir Putin’s inner circle.
Recent Russian provocations have included a Russian jet conducting a “simulated attack” on a U.S. naval vessel, which brought the plane within 30 feet of the ship. NATO attempted to alleviate tensions by conducting its first official meeting with Russia in almost two years in late April, however, the meeting appears to have creating more problems than it solved.
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