The Pentagon’s Top Threat? Russiaby The Editorial Board
The Pentagon has put Russia at the top of its list of national security threats with its plan to increase the deployment of heavy weapons, armored vehicles and troops on rotating assignment to NATO countries in Central and Eastern Europe.
In a speech on Tuesday, Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter listed a hierarchy of threats to the United States, which included China, North Korea, Iran and finally, the fight against terrorism. But his primary focus was Russia.
While he makes a good case for deterring Russian aggression, his proposal to quadruple military spending in Europe in 2017 to $3.4 billion from $789 million seems excessive and raises questions about whether other immediate threats, like the Islamic State, are getting short shrift.
It is undeniable that Russia has become openly aggressive under President Vladimir Putin, who has violated sovereign borders by annexing Crimea and stoking civil war in Ukraine. A cease-fire in Ukraine was declared last year, but Russian forces still maintain a presence in eastern Ukraine, raising questions about whether Russia might try to extend its reach to the Baltic States.
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