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Congressman Tom Cole

Representing the 4th District of Oklahoma

Strengthening Allies and Combating Adversaries in Europe

July 30, 2018
Weekly Columns
Despite much controversy and reporting surrounding the U.S. – Russia summit in Helsinki, Finland, America’s foreign policy with Russia under President Trump’s Administration has been stronger than the previous three administrations. But as the United States continues to fight the advances of Russian aggression, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is being strengthened by the joint actions of the U.S. and its allies. President Trump has taken a strong approach to encourage our NATO allies to increase their forces and invest further to build western end strength.
 
Vladimir Putin and the men and women serving in our intelligence agencies are not morally equivalent. Putin’s Russia has invaded two neighboring countries, illegally seized Crimea, cooperated with a brutal dictatorship in Syria, and tried to destabilize democratic regimes around the world. The Putin regime was involved in the murder of critics and defectors at home and on foreign soil. Clearly, neither Vladimir Putin nor the regime he heads can be trusted. These egregious actions must be countered at every turn.
 
Findings by the House Committee on Intelligence, as well as the U.S. intelligence community, continue to highlight Russia’s propaganda and interference in domestic political processes around the world. NATO alliance members must have the capability to respond to malicious cyber-attacks and to counter Russia.
 
This past month, leaders from the 29-member states of NATO held a summit at the NATO headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, to convene on military and security measures between its respective alliances. The scope of the summit expressed the essential need to support the enhancement of collective defense and deterrence of the alliance, improve military readiness and reinforce NATO troops deployed in Central and Eastern Europe. The NATO members had agreed in 2014 to spend at least 2 percent of gross domestic product on their militaries by 2024, and President Trump maintains an unwavering expectation that our NATO allies meet their obligation and carry their share of the security burden. The alliance also agreed to integrate cybersecurity into NATO operations, moving forward with a cyberspace operations center in Belgium and to stand-up a “Joint Force Command” headquarters.
 
To get European allies prepared for combat against any Russian attack, the member countries are planning for more NATO battalions, ships, and planes. The NATO Readiness Initiative is a fighting force comprised of 30 land battalions, 30 aircraft squadrons and 30 naval ships within 30 days. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has made the case that the “30-30-30-30” initiative is what is necessary to deter Russian aggression in Europe. The NATO alliance is in agreement.
 
The United States has launched its most significant military build-up in 15 years to improve upon our military capabilities. Our NATO allies should work in concert with the U.S. to secure western engagement around the world. In addition to involvement with NATO, the Administration’s policy toward Russian aggression and interference around the world has been at its best. NATO has been a cornerstone of trans-Atlantic security for almost 70 years. The alliance will remain a central pillar of western security in the years ahead through cooperation with our allies in Europe and firm actions to counter our adversaries.