News / Europe

    NATO Commander: Alliance Must Reconsider Russia Relationship

    NATO's Supreme Allied Commander Europe U.S. General Philip M. Breedlove (R) speaks with Ukraine's acting Defense Minister Mykhailo Koval (2nd L) during a meeting of NATO defense ministers in the format of the North Atlantic Council with Non-ISAF contribut
    NATO's Supreme Allied Commander Europe U.S. General Philip M. Breedlove (R) speaks with Ukraine's acting Defense Minister Mykhailo Koval (2nd L) during a meeting of NATO defense ministers in the format of the North Atlantic Council with Non-ISAF contribut
    NATO's military commander says the alliance must reconsider its force positioning and readiness because of Russia's annexation of Ukraine's Crimea region.

    U.S. Air Force General Philip Breedlove says that for more than a decade the United States and its allies have viewed Russia as a partner.

    "And NATO has taken decisions in force structure, force readiness and force positioning based on that, that Russia would be a partner. Right now, Russia is acting like anything but a partner," he said. "So we will need to revisit those decisions."

    In recent months, he says, NATO saw Russia mass troops along the border of Ukraine and forcibly annex Crimea. That means the alliance will have to adapt.

    "That changes the way we do the business. So we are now reevaluating how we do these things as it relates to force readiness, responsiveness and positioning," he said.

    The general spoke Thursday with VOA journalist Henry Ridgwell, following events to mark the 70th anniversary of the Allied D-Day invasion of France in World War II.  

    Breedlove says that as the NATO military commander, he has been asked to develop "reassurance measures" to help shore up military readiness and cooperation with the Baltic nations and Poland. Those NATO states border Russia and are concerned that Moscow might try assert claims to their territory.

    "We have a robust response, a very fast, dramatic response of our air forces forward to pick up air policing and air defense," he said. "We now have a strong showing and a very sustainable force posture on the maritime. And during the recent defense ministerial which I just returned from literally yesterday, pledges by many nations for good, strong, land presence in a temporary or exercise fashion."

    Those programs will continue throughout this year, and Breedlove says, NATO leaders may decide to extend them at their summit in September.

    He says NATO is engaging with Ukrainian officials, to help build its defense capacity. But he said it is not up to NATO to bring nations into the alliance. Countries must ask for that, and meet conditions to join. And he says, NATO understands that Russia would see membership for Ukraine as a "step toward Russia" for the alliance.

    The general also spoke of the ceremonies on Thursday and Friday to mark the June 6, 1944 D-Day landings - when tens of thousands of Allied troops stormed the Normandy beaches. With the surviving veterans now in their 80s and 90s, the general says it is crucial for the memories of that war be passed on.

    And he says he will never forget the 92-year-old veteran of the landing who marched alongside him, with NATO troops, in commemoration ceremonies.

    "When we started marching, he was focused on the soldiers in front of them, his fingers were curled, his cadence was perfect and he was matching their marching and it was a great source of pride to him," he said. "How do you share that with people if you don’t get to walk alongside someone like that?"

    Other NATO ceremonies Thursday and Friday brought together the nations that defeated Nazi Germany in World War II. Among the dignitaries attending were U.S. President Barack Obama, and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

    You May Like

    Syrian Torture Victim Recounts Horrors

    'You make them think you have surrendered' says Jalal Nofal, a doctor who was jailed and survived repeated interrogations in Syria

    Mandela’s Millions Paid to Heirs, But Who Gets His Country Home?

    Saga around $3 million estate of country's first democratic president is far from over as Winnie Mandela’s fight for home overshadows payouts

    Guess Which Beach is 'Best in the US'?

    Hawaii’s Hanauma Bay tops an annual "top 10" list compiled by a coastal scientist, also known as Doctor Beach

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Cayman
    June 08, 2014 8:53 AM
    Historically Crimea is a Russian territory. And Russia did not take this territory back with power. There was the decision made by Crimea citizens by referendum to not be anymore Ukrainian territory because of unstable political situation. And they wanted to be again part of their motherland country. Why do politicians do not want to hear the opinion of their people?
    And I just could not understand why NATO is putting their noses in this? They allied to solve the problems of the participants of this union. Ukraine was never being a part of this ally. So could we say that the real goal of the NATO is not the same as they all declare?

    by: gen from: japan
    June 07, 2014 8:48 AM
    I think the Ukraine unrest is unrelated to NATOt.The Ukraine unrest happened because of the kiev government's bad politics.It ignored the opinion of the east part of Ukraine,because of the right sectors brutal acts supported by US,because of
    the rebel business by US,because of the kiev government propaganda for seeking the support of the West.NATO don't need build up arms.If NATO want
    to flourish the military business,it would be a anther story.Why didn't the commander say he want war business?
    It would be more honest to say so.
    I understand that easily.

    by: Mark from: Virginia
    June 07, 2014 6:09 AM
    NATO is a relic from the Cold War, it should have been dismantled when the Soviet Union broke up, as it was created to counter the Soviet threat. Well, there are no Soviets anymore (despite how Putin is acting now, they are still far from what the Soviets used to be), and so there should no longer be any need for NATO.
    If we had considered Russia as a partner, then NATO should have been even more obsolete. Why worry about troop positions and readiness when you considered Russia a partner? If anything, it continued the line of distrust between East and West by holding onto an organization that remains to be a reminder of how things USED to be, not how things were supposed to be headed.
    You don't treat a 'partner' like that, holding onto distrust and wariness like that. So, it really is not that surprising that these crises have arisen when one side is still using doctrines and practices of an earlier time that is no longer needed, and the other side never was allowed the full trust and friendship of a partnership that the West never fully embraced. Once again, the West created this situation and is now blaming the 'other side' for actions it helped create.
    When will we ever learn?

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora