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

Jihadist Assassin says Goal of Tunisia Murders Was Chaos

Abu Muqatil at-Tunusi’s remarks in a propaganda interview also cast light on attack on Bardo Museum More

Russia Denies License to Tatar-Language TV Station in Crimea

OSCE official says denial shows 'politically selective censorship of free and independent voices in Crimea is continuing' More

Kenyan Startups Tackle Expensive Remittances Through Bitcoin

Some think services could give Western Union a run for its money, though others say it’s still got a long way to go More

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.
For Obama, It's More Business Than Friendships With World Leadersi
X
Aru Pande
April 01, 2015 9:09 PM
The rift between President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has put a spotlight on the importance of the American leader’s personal relationships with other world leaders and what role such friendships play in foreign policy. VOA's Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video For Obama, It's More Business Than Friendships With World Leaders

The rift between President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has put a spotlight on the importance of the American leader’s personal relationships with other world leaders and what role such friendships play in foreign policy. VOA's Aru Pande reports.
Video

Video Buhari: Nigeria Has ‘Embraced Democracy’

Nigeria woke up to a new president-elect Wednesday, Muhammadu Buhari. But people say democracy is the real winner as the country embarks on its first peaceful handover of power since the end of military rule in 1999. VOA’s Anne Look reports from Abuja.
Video

Video Tiny Camera Sees Inside Blood Vessels

Ahead of any surgical procedure, doctors try to learn as much as possible about the state of the organs they plan to operate on. A new camera developed in the Netherlands can now make that easier - giving surgeons an incredibly detailed look inside blood vessels, all the way to the patient’s heart. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Latin American Groups Seek Fans at Texas Music Festival

Latin American music groups played all over Austin, Texas, during the recent South by Southwest festival, and some made fans out of locals as well as people from around the world who had come to hear music. Such exposure can boost such groups' image back home. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Stockton Community, Police, Work to Improve Relations

Relations are tense between minority communities and police departments around the United States following police shootings that have generated widely-publicized protests. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Stockton, California, where police and community groups are working toward solutions, with backing from Washington.
Video

Video Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedom

Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Report: State of Black America a 'Tale of Two Nations'

The National Urban League has described this year's "State of Black America" report as a "tale of two nations." The group's annual report, released earlier this month (March), found that under an equality index African Americans had only 72% parity compared to whites in areas such as education, economics, health, social justice and civic engagement. It’s a gap that educators and students at Brooklyn’s Medgar Evers College are looking to close. VOA's Daniela Schrier reports from the school.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials Underway in West Africa

Ebola has claimed the lives of more than 10,000 people in West Africa. Since last summer, researchers have rushed to get anti-Ebola vaccines into clinical trials. While it's too early to say that any of the potential vaccines work, some scientists say they are seeing strong results from some of the studies. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More