Craddock: NATO-Russian ties appear to be on mend
January 11, 2009
WASHINGTON — Relations between Russia and NATO could be thawing, the head of U.S. European Command said Friday.
Military interactions between NATO and Russia were frozen after the Russian invasion of Georgia in August.
But a recent meeting between NATO’s secretary-general and Russia’s ambassador to NATO may have eased tensions between the two sides, said Gen. John Craddock.
“I think we may well see in the future the authority pretty soon for the Russians to agree that their forces are unfrozen,” Craddock told reporters Friday.
Craddock also said he has sent a letter to the Russian chief of defense suggesting that Russian naval forces in the Mediterranean and NATO conduct an exercise together.
“I have not received a response, but again, hope springs eternal, and maybe we’ll hear something soon,” Craddock said.
The issue of missile defense remains a source of tension between the Russian and U.S. militaries, Craddock said.
He called Russian concerns that the U.S. missile defense system is a threat to Russian strategic missile capability “mindless.”
“I think what’s happened here now in the past couple years is the political rhetoric has overcome the military logic,” Craddock said.
In other matters, Craddock said he expects he will need between $300 million and $400 million for military construction over the next five years.
One pressing need is construction dollars for Department of Defense Dependents Schools, he said.
“We have got to invest some money to provide adequate facilities — physical plants — for these kids, and if we don’t do it, it becomes a readiness issue, because then, what’ll happen is, the families stay in the United States, and the servicemember — mom or dad — goes alone, and then we create other problems,” Craddock said.
Craddock also reiterated his stance that the proposed drawdown of U.S. forces in Europe would not leave him with enough forces to do EUCOM’s tasks.
He has recommended keeping four Army brigade combat teams in Europe instead of drawing down to two. In 2007, the Army delayed the transfer of two brigade combat teams to the United States until 2012.
When asked if the Army’s growth might mean more soldiers could go to Europe, he replied:
“That’s a possibility. That’d be an Army decision.”
Would he reject additional forces? “Not at all,” he said.