Reassure and Deter

The US should continue reassuring eastern European allies, but we must do better, the former deputy assistant secretary of defense for Russia/Ukraine/Eurasia said Wednesday. “We actually have to deter,” Evelyn Farkas told journalists at a Defense Writers Group breakfast in Washington, D.C. The US should consider adjusting its force posture to put more military forces further east, Farkas said, and should give more political attention, economic assistance, and military assistance to countries that feel directly threatened by Russia. Farkas, who left the Pentagon at the end of October after five years, said she believes the US should provide defense assistance to Ukraine, primarily anti-tank weapons, but said that and other policy disagreements are not why she left the department. And though Russia is economically weak and politically brittle, Farkas said, that doesn’t mean it is not a danger. “This nuclear sabre rattling that we’ve heard … is something that we didn’t have during the Cold War,” she said, calling the nuclear-related rhetoric “highly alarming.” Farkas also said the US and its NATO allies should not continue to abide by the letter of the NATO-Russia Founding Act by not positioning significant permanent forces in eastern NATO territory, because the Russians violated the agreement. “The NATO-Russian framework agreement is broken,” she said. “The Russians broke it.”