Secretary of Defense Carter: Russia’s Loose Talk about Nuclear Weapons is ‘Most Disturbing’

Secretary of Defense Ash Carter and Gen. Joseph Dunford, May. 3, 2016From AP: Defense Secretary Ash Carter used a U.S. military changing-of-the-guard ceremony Tuesday to blast Russian aggression in Europe, saying Moscow is “going backward in time” with warlike actions that compel a U.S. military buildup on NATO’s eastern flank.

“We do not seek a cold — let alone a hot — war with Russia,” Carter said. “We do not seek to make Russia an enemy. But make no mistake, we will defend our allies, the rules-based international order, and the positive future it affords us….”

Carter’s remarks reflect U.S. aggravation with Moscow on multiple fronts, including its intervention in eastern Ukraine, its annexation of Crimea in 2014 and what Carter called Russian efforts to intimidate its Baltic neighbors — which the United States is treaty-bound to defend because they are NATO members. “Most disturbing,” Carter said, is loose talk by Russia about using nuclear weapons.

“Moscow’s nuclear saber-rattling raises troubling questions about Russia’s leaders’ commitment to strategic stability, their respect for norms against the use of nuclear weapons, and whether they respect the profound caution that nuclear-age leaders showed with regard to brandishing nuclear weapons,” he said….

On Monday, Carter said NATO is considering establishing a continuous rotation of up to 4,000 troops in the Baltic states and possibly Poland. That force, which could include some number of U.S. troops, is among options being discussed by NATO officials and is expected to be considered at a NATO defense meeting in June.

“Our budget also reflects how we’re doing more, and in more ways, with specific NATO allies,” Carter said. “Given increased Russian submarine activity in the North Atlantic, this includes building toward a continuous arc of highly capable maritime patrol aircraft operating over the Greenland-Iceland-United Kingdom gap up to Norway’s North Cape.”

From Lucas Tomlinson, Fox News:  Carter said Tuesday the Pentagon has pledged $3.4 million in next year’s budget, quadruple the spending from last year, to beef up NATO’s eastern flank with its allies. Carter said a new armored brigade would be heading to Europe, though officials told Fox News it would not arrive until the end of 2017.

Carter said the increase in funds would support an additional U.S. Air Force F-15 squadron, more U.S. special operations forces to train in Europe, and more submarine-hunting aircraft to counter increased Russian submarine activity.

Russia’s aggressive actions only serve to further its isolation, and unite our alliance,” he said.

Image: Secretary of Defense Ash Carter and Gen. Joseph Dunford, May. 3, 2016 (photo: D. Myles Cullen/Department of Defense)