WASHINGTON – Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey described Russia’s actions in Eastern Europe as “extraordinarily unsettling” and said they appear largely driven by President Vladimir Putin’s desire to establish a personal legacy.
“We have a very clear picture of the capability of the overt military forces of Russia,” General Dempsey said today in a speech at the Atlantic Council. The gauging of Russia’s “intent is and will remain elusive,” he told participants in a conference on the disruptive security effects of emerging technologies.
General Dempsey will meet next week in Brussels with NATO chiefs of defense, whom he said he will advise to pay special attention to NATO’s “southern flank.”
“NATO is at a critical crossroads, if you will, given the aggressiveness of Russia. So its eastern flank must be reconsidered,” he said. “But my personal advice to…NATO is that the southern flank deserves far more attention than it currently receives from NATO. …The issues emanating into this region from the Middle East and North Africa could profoundly change life inside of Europe. Not only southern, but well into central and northern Europe.”
On Syria, General Dempsey said the Syrian opposition will need a governance structure that can effectively provide security to the population and a force capable of holding ground both for humanitarian purposes and for counter-terror activity.
“We’re not on a path to currently provide that, and that’s the conversation we need to have regionally, not unilaterally. This issue is Beirut to Damascus to Baghdad,” he said.
Full conference video can be found on our website here.
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