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Grushko: NATO’s Policy Toward Russia Hasn’t Changed

June 2, 2017 (EIRNS)—The leadership of certain NATO members may be bewildered by U.S. President Donald Trump, but the view from Moscow is that America’s NATO policy has not really changed. The NATO buildup on Russia’s borders continues without letup, presenting a security threat that Russia must respond to.

"NATO countries should understand that all these efforts will not become unnoticed for us and will not stay without response in terms of military planning,"

Alexander Grushko, Russia’s ambassador to NATO, told reporters in Brussels yesterday, reports Reuters.

"With these military steps, military activities and military reinforcements, NATO is building a new military, security situation that we cannot ignore, that we should address using our own military instruments."

Grushko dismissed the controversy at the NATO summit, where Trump placed the war on terror and the refugee crisis ahead of concerns with Russia, and said that, instead, Russia is focusing on the "reality on the ground" in eastern NATO states, and expressed criticism of Trump’s demands for more allied defense spending.

"In real steps, there is no change of U.S. policy through NATO vis-à-vis Russia. And this financial request is a demonstration of that.... The situation in our relations with NATO is not very promising and without changes in basic NATO approach we don’t see real perspective for progress."

One indication that U.S./NATO policy is still on the trajectory established by the Obama Administration starting in 2014, is that the Trump Administration’s 2018 budget request includes $4.7 billion for the Pentagon’s so-called European Reassurance Initiative, which finances extra U.S. military deployments to Eastern Europe. That’s a substantial increase over the $3.4 billion allocated for 2017. Air Force Maj. Gen. David W. Allvin, the U.S. European Command director of strategy, plans and policy, told reporters at the Pentagon during a telephone briefing, that the additional money

"will support the deterrence of future Russian aggression and malign influence through increased joint air, sea and land force responsiveness and expanded interoperability with combined multinational forces."

Another sign that NATO is continuing on its old course is its exercise schedule. Two exercises are currently ongoing, BALTOPS and Noble Jump. Around 4,000 U.S. and European troops from 14 nations are taking part in the annual BALTOPS naval exercise that opened yesterday in Poland’s Baltic Sea port of Szczecin. The forces including about 50 naval vessels and 50 aircraft. In Romania, another 2,000 soldiers, 1,000 assistance personnel, and 500 vehicles from eleven NATO nations are participating in "Noble Jump 2017" drill. Noble Jump, reports the Associated Press, aims to show the deployment skills of NATO’s Very High Readiness Joint Task Force, established after the 2014 NATO summit in Wales.