U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis arrived in Brussels for defence ministers meeting, seeking to re-affirm ties with European allies, finding himself in the difficult position of mending relationships amid trade argument initiated by President Donald Trump’s policies. Speaking with reporters on the way to Brussels, Gen.Mattis presumed that while talks with NATO partners would be tough, he did not expect Trump’s tariffs decision to have an impact on defense issues for now.
Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg previewed this week’s meeting of NATO Defence Ministers – the first in the Alliance’s new headquarters – at a press conference on Wednesday (6 June 2018). Ministers are expected to take a series of decisions on the NATO Command Structure and military readiness, discuss plans for a NATO training mission in Iraq, and review progress in achieving more defence spending and better burden sharing. They will also discuss NATO-EU cooperation, and hold a meeting on the Resolute Support training mission in Afghanistan.
NATO HQ: Secretary of Defence Jim Mattis at his press conference read carefully worded statement, with accents on the unity of the Alliance. He also softened the message on budget, expressing belive that there will be no need to ‘moderate’ on the US position, because all the allies understand the importance of defence. Mattis also hardened the language towards Kremlin, reminding of “Russian aggression” in Ukraine. However the velvet glove did not cast doubts on his intention to implement the initial message both in reforming NATO, ending the system for a number of the European allies to benefit from the the US as security consumers, neither his intention to find new ways to co-operate with Russia on defeating terrorism.
NATO HQ, Brussels. In his frist speech to NATO allies US Defense Secretary Gen.Mattis defined the strategy towards Russia, reminiscent of the end of Cold War, and hopes for better world everyone had. However in 2014 Russia used force to “alter the borders of one of the sovereign neighbors”, he reminded, also mentionng some allies, without naming, who prefferd to ignore this new reality.
Gen.Mattis put forward a dual track approach, seeking boath engagement with Russia, fighting common threat of international terrorism, but the same time preserving NATO strength, if case there are further breaches of international laws and obligations.
The experts consider the dual track as a window of opportunity to engage Russia in defeating ISIL, and international terrorism, one of the beacons of the president’s Trump election campaign, who considered to revise he sanctions policy towards Russia in case they proof to be useful to the US in empowering security, and diminishing the terrorist threat.
In his highly political speech Gen.Mattis showed his skill as a statesman and a diplomat, drawing the strategy towards Russia, beneficial for the “democratic islands of stablity” the Alliance is determined to preserve, without compromising the noble purpose of defending ideas upon which NATO was founded.
Through his speech Gen.Mattis underlined the freedom, common heritage and civilization to reamian the common values to stay a corestone of the Transatlantic relations.
NATO HQ, Brussels: US Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis reconfirmed the US engagement in NATO, as a “bedrock” of the Transatlantic security, however the issue of budget stays as a priority. The current practise of a number of the NATO members to act as security-consumers does not correspond to the vision of the fair burden-sharing of the new US administration.
Speaking to reporters ahead of the meetings of NATO Defence Ministers, Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Allies will take decisions to ensure NATO stays strong and flexible in the face of evolving challenges, adding that a strong NATO is good for Europe and North America.
NATO Defence Ministers began two days of talks in Brussels on Wednesday,15 February 2017, focusing on ensuring NATO’s strength and flexibility in the face of evolving challenges. Ministers will review progress in deploying NATO’s deterrent forces in the eastern part of the Alliance and assess what NATO can do in the fight against terrorism, says the official announcement of the Alliance.
In his debut trip to Europe as Pentagon chief, Mattis is set to continuity of previous U.S. calls for European allies to invest more on defense, the message the U.S. defense secretaries under Republican and Democratic administrations have done in decades.
President Trump has moderated his criticism of NATO since taking office, but has maintained messaging to some allies for failing to make “full and proper financial contributions.”
“Many of them have not been even close,” Trump said commenting on European defense spending. “And they have to do that,” Trump told U.S. troops in Florida earlier this month. This financial request makes some of the allies feel unease, especially Italy, struggling to come out from financial crisis.
The finance debate has overshadowed at least to some extend the major issue of the NATO, it’s raison d’être – the relations with Russia.
The ‘holy war’ of the Democrats against president Trump and his administration in attempt to block any of his electoral promises implementation, including the anticipated by many moderation of policy towards Russia, does not allow NATO’s reform, and moreover the alliance with Kremlin to defeat Islamic State. The defeat of the “radical Islamic terrorism” is of the priorities of Trump’s foreign policy.
The NATO as the product of the cold war era was called “obsolete” by present Trump during the election campaign, however the US internal political confrontation does not allow him to start any reforms at the moment. The issue of NATO-Russia relations is not expected to be resolved as long as the political stalemate in Washington stays, delaying the defeat of Islamic State, profiting from the policy of confrontation between the West and Russia to expand its powers to North Africa.