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    'Unexpected Surprise': What Putin, Trump and Steinmeier Have in Common

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    NATO Seeks Expansion to Eastern Europe (362)
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    Fatigue with NATO's increasingly muscular policy on its eastern flank is something that Russian President Vladimir Putin, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier and the GOP's likely presidential candidate Donald Trump seem to have in common.

    The Russian leader and the flamboyant billionaire agree that international terrorism is the key global challenge everyone, including the North Atlantic Alliance, should focus on. Instead, the alliance appears to be primarily concerned with Moscow.

    "We must create a modern collective security system beyond blocs and with all countries on an equal footing," Putin said in his address to the State Duma on Wednesday, reaffirming Russia's readiness for dialogue. "For now though … we see no positive response."

    "On the contrary, NATO is stepping up its aggressive rhetoric and aggressive actions close to our borders," he observed. The bloc's muscle flexing has forced Russia to improve its defense capabilities at a time when nations could cast aside "old ideological differences," stop playing "geopolitical games" and join "forces to fight international terrorism."

    Trump tried to direct attention to the same issue earlier this month. In his view, NATO should be pouring time and efforts into defeating "Islamic terrorism, not nation-building." Paradoxically, the bloc played a role in making this problem worse.

    "The last major NATO mission was Hillary Clinton's war in Libya. That mission helped unleash [Daesh] on a new continent," he said earlier this month. "I've said NATO needs to change its focus to stopping terrorism. Since I've raised that criticism, NATO has since announced a new initiative focused on just that."

    ​The Republican was referring to NATO's latest initiative meant to improve intelligence sharing on terrorism in the wake of major terrorist attacks in France and Belgium. This is a welcome development, but it pales in comparison to all the measures that the bloc will adopt to build up its military power in Eastern Europe and the Baltic region.

    Several days later Frank-Walter Steinmeier warned NATO against "inflaming the situation with loud saber-rattling and warmongering" when it comes to dealing with Russia. "Anyone who thinks that symbolic tank parades on the bloc's Eastern border create more security is mistaken."

    Germany's top diplomat also urged to avoid measures that could "renew an old confrontation," adding that it would be "fatal to search only for military solutions and a policy of deterrence."

    Political analyst Michael Curtis described this consensus as "an unexpected surprise."

    Topic:
    NATO Seeks Expansion to Eastern Europe (362)

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    Tags:
    military buildup, muscle-flexing, NATO buildup, NATO expansion, NATO's easteern flank, Islamic extremism, radical Islam, international terrorism, Daesh, NATO, Donald Trump, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, Vladimir Putin, Europe, Russia
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