Nearly two years after Russia’s annexation of Crimea, the territory remains under Russian control, and in the eastern part of Ukraine there has been an uptick in the fighting. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb discussed the issue with Michael Carpenter, deputy assistant secretary of defense with responsibilities for Russia, Ukraine and Eurasia.
VOA: Let's start with the European Reassurance Initiative. This was started in June of 2014, a few months after the annexation of Crimea. Now that budget has increased a lot — it's at, I think, $3.4 billion. Has this been effective to deter Russian aggression?
Carpenter: Well, I think the ERI, especially the increase, the quadrupling to $3.4 billion in fiscal year '17, is a testament to how seriously we take the threat from the East. And this is an investment in setting the conditions for effective deterrence and defense of our NATO allies, especially those on the eastern flank of the alliance. It'll involve a variety of different things, including an augmented rotational force posture in Europe, prepositioning of equipment, additional exercises, increasing readiness of our NATO forces as well as infrastructure investments, but the bottom line is this testifies to how seriously the United States takes the threat from the East for our NATO allies.
VOA: What, specifically, out of all those things that you've mentioned, what do you feel has been the most effective?
Carpenter: It’s a multifaceted effort, and we're approaching this very much not only from a joint military perspective but, frankly, from a whole-of-government perspective. Because as we see some of the new hybrid toolkit that's being developed in Russia and elsewhere, it's incumbent for us and our allies to develop an appropriate response to that.