Pence warns NATO about lack of spending

Hawaii Intelligence Digest, 19 February 2017, 01:55 hrs, UTC, Post #117.

Source:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/02/us-pledges-unwavering-commitment-nato-munich-security-conference

Accessed on 19 February 2017, 01:55 hrs, UTC.

Reporter:  Ben Farmer.

Please click link to read the full story.

Comment:

Speaking at the Munich Security Conference on Saturday, 18 February 2017, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence warned NATO members that lack of spending for the defense alliance “erodes the foundation of NATO” as Russian officials say NATO is an outdated idea that endangers peace in Europe.

Security correspondent Ben Farmer offers his analysis of the NATO issue:

“Mike Pence’s comments came as the Russian foreign minister descried Nato as a “Cold War institution” whose expansion had led to unprecedented tensions in Europe over the past thirty years, and called for a “post-West world order.”

“Russia wants to build pragmatic relations with the United States based on mutual respect, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told an audience at the Munich Security Council.

Speaking after Mr Pence, Germany’s foreign minister made it clear that the country had no plans to increase defence spending in the near future despite the US vice president’s call.

“I don’t know where Germany can find billions of euros to boost defence spending if politicians also want to lower taxes,” Sigmar Gabriel said. ”

Opinion:

Clearly, the Trump administration is at an unfortunate impasse with its NATO allies over funding shortfalls for the alliance.  Although Mr. Pence promised support for NATO, he says the U.S. can’t keep “footing the bill” for most of the alliance’s costs.  According to reporter Ben Farmer, only five nations are “paying their fair share” of NATO’s expenses.  The U.S. message comes as a veiled threat to reluctant European NATO members that U.S. participation in the alliance will be reduced should expenses continue to rise.  Whether this approach will get results is unlikely, especially since the German Defense Minister says his country can’t devote any more resources to the alliance.  The NATO funding crisis is good news for the Russian Federation, since it will give Russia leverage in negotiating new agreements with Europe.  Russian Federation President Vladimir Putin may strike a “deal” with the United States and Europe to slow its territorial ambitions in Ukraine and elsewhere if economic sanctions imposed on Russia for its growing role in the Middle East and support for militant factions in nations are removed.  Mr. Putin will continue to put pressure on the Baltic States, Ukraine, and Poland until NATO and the U.S. agree to “back off”.  Russia is already stationing medium range missiles near Poland, Lithuania, Estonia, and Latvia.  This could be a definite “win” for Russia and a humiliating loss for the Trump administration.  Mr. Trump is finding out just how clever and politically astute Mr. Putin is.  The NATO ultimatum is a risky move with the only winner being The Russian Federation.

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