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Dunford, German Foreign Intelligence Chief Say Russia Is a Threat

Nov. 17, 2017 (EIRNS)—This week, both the top military officer in the U.S. and the head of Germany’s intelligence service, the BND, have delivered remarks painting Russia as a major threat to the West. These remarks were debunked to a certain extent, however, by a Finnish expert on Russia who has found, so far, that the Russian Zapad 2017 exercise, last September, was exactly what the Russians said it was.

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford, in a speech at Tufts University’s Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, said that while the U.S. military has certain global advantages, those advantages are being eroded by Russia and China. The U.S. global advantages include its network of allies and the U.S. military’s ability to project power anywhere in the world. In the last 10 or 15 years, Dunford said, "that competitive advantage has eroded, and it’s no longer as decisive as it was some years ago." Dunford said that both Russia and China have invested heavily in key capabilities that have

"the express purpose of keeping us from projecting power into the Pacific, or into Europe as the case may be, in meeting our alliance commitments."

Dunford acknowledges that Russia has no desire to fight a conventional war with the United States and NATO, but:

"What Russia has done over time now is they’ve combined political influence, economic coercion, information operations, cyber operations and military posture to advance their interests,"

he said, referring to the dynamic as "adversarial competition." He admitted though that such "competition" falls short of war.

Bruno Kahl, the head of Germany’s BND intelligence agency, goes further, calling Russia a direct military threat to Europe. Kahl, during a speech on Nov. 14, said the BND had observed "unsettling" modernization and troop distribution on the part of Russia’s army during the recent Zapad training exercises along the borders of the Baltic EU member countries, reports Deutschewelle.

"In the entire military region in the west, but also in the south and the north, the scope of the [Russian] armed forces has reached new heights,"

he said.

"To say it clearly: Instead of a partner for European security we have in Russia a potential danger. The world political actor Russia is back and it will be an uncomfortable neighbor."

In Helsinki, however, a Finnish military expert has come to a conclusion that probably won’t be welcomed at NATO headquarters in Brussels. Juhani Pihlajamaa, a Russian military specialist at Finland’s National Defence University, told Finland’s YLE broadcaster that the Zapad 2017 exercise was precisely what the Russians said it was—an anti-terrorism exercise and not a message to NATO. He said the drill was actually less aggressive than it could have been, saying that they did not include testing of the Iskander short range missile system in Kaliningrad this year, as they did a year ago. He otherwise buys the narrative of an agressive Russia, but he contends that he doesn’t think Zapad was meant to be a threat to Finland, saying that the focus of the drills was elsewhere.