BELGRADE – The US European Command (EUCOM) and NATO are prepared to “fight and win” against Russia “if necessary,” US Supreme Allied Commander Europe General Philip Breedlove said on Thursday.
Russia has repeatedly warned that NATO’s attempts to expand on its borders, as well as more recently amass troops and equipment, constitute provocative acts that are contrary to previous agreements and can undermine regional and global stability.
“To counter Russia, EUCOM, working with allies and partners, is deterring Russia now and preparing to fight and win if necessary,” Breedlove said.
Since 2014, the United States and NATO have been focused on rebuilding military capacity and force readiness in Europe under the European Reassurance Initiative (ERI).
Breedlove explained that under ERI, NATO will preposition its second “heavy force” in Europe, which he said “will be used, not for practicing, but for warfighting.”
In early February, the US Department of Defense requested a Europe-related defense budget of $3.4 billion for fiscal year 2017.
The United States and NATO’s European Reassurance Initiative (ERI) is a return to a posture of deterrence against Russia, General Philip Breedlove told the House of Representatives Armed Services Committee on Thursday.
As a result of NATO’s alleged partnership posture toward Russia, the alliance downsized its forces, headquarters and capabilities. The ERI takes a multi-pronged approach to rebuild a forward deployed, ready force structure in Europe, as well as better infrastructure and prepositioned military equipment.
“For the past two decades… we have been in a position where we have been trying to make a partner out of Russia in Europe,” Breedlove stated. “ERI is one of the steps along the way to position us… to get to where we need to be to deter [Russia].”
Breedlove explained that the ERI is an attempt to “begin reshaping the European Command and the NATO force structure to be able now to confront someone that does not wish to share our norms and values in Europe.”
In its recently released 2017 budget request, the US Department of Defense asked for $3.4 billion to fund the ERI, a four-fold increase over the 2016 funding levels.