Scaparrotti: Russia intends to undermine every step of the Balkans toward NATO integration

Curtis Scaparrotti
Curtis Scaparrotti

 The commander of US forces in Europe, the General Curtis Scaparrotti, said Russia continues to be "a major threat" to Euro-Atlantic security and voiced concern over the modernization of Moscow's military program. 

Speaking at a House of Representatives in the session of February 13, Scaparrotti said Russia intends to undermine every step towards the Balkans' integration into the Euro-Atlantic alliance, through disinformation and support of the extreme forces in the region.

"Russia has continued to be a strategic competitor and is the main threat to the stability of the Euro-Atlantic environment," he told the Senate Committee on Armed Services.

"While the United States continues to have military supremacy in the world, the rise of Russian capabilities risks our military priorities and challenges our ability to act indiscriminately in all areas, and reduces our ability to fight Russian aggression."

He also mentioned that while Moscow intends to increase its military capabilities, the US can continue to be superior only by investing in defense.

"I am very concerned about the modernization of their program. It is a real program that Russian President Vladimir Putin has managed to increase. Although, as I have mentioned, we have a dominant force, in the coming years we have to invest, " he said.

The US general has also expressed concerns about the ways Russia is creating in the Balkans, a region in which the US has "invested a lot and is very important for Europe's security."

"If we talk in general, these efforts are damaging the integration of the region into the Euro-Atlantic structures, the European Union and NATO. This is their overall objective," Scaparrotti told the American Committee.

"Initially, they do it through misinformation, through funds and support for some parties. We see that such thing has grown in the Balkans in the last six or eight months."

He said he is concerned about Russia's attempt to prevent North Macedonia on its path to membership in the alliance.

"I can say that Montenegro's membership in NATO, now the 29th member, and North Macedonia, which may be the 30th member, is exactly what Russia does not want to see. I think they will continue to address this with North Macedonia, as they have tried to influence Montenegro's NATO membership. Authorities in Montenegro, which joined NATO in June last year, have charged two Russian officials, Russia's military intelligence, GRU, for organizing attempted coup d'etat in order to prevent this state from joining the alliance.
Scaparrotti: Russia intends to undermine every step of the Balkans toward NATO integration Scaparrotti: Russia intends to undermine every step of the Balkans toward NATO integration Wednesday, March 13, 2019 Rating: 5
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