07:49 GMT31 October 2020
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    US Secretary of Defense said that United States must remain a strong part of the NATO alliance to deter Russia in Eastern Europe and defend the region in case of aggression.

    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) The United States must remain a strong part of the NATO alliance to deter Russia in Eastern Europe and defend the region in case of aggression, US Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter said in an exit memorandum on Thursday.

    "The United States must remain engaged with NATO — an alliance of principled and like-minded members backed by strength — to ensure continued progress and to deter and defend against Russian aggression in Europe," Carter stated.

    In the exit memorandum, released along those from with other Cabinet-level officials, Carter detailed the Defense Department’s efforts to increase US military presence in Europe, including increasing multilateral exercises and deployments to the Baltic states and Poland.

    Moreover, Carter noted that the Defense Department requested a four-fold increase in funding for the European Reassurance Initiative for fiscal year 2017, totaling $3.4 billion, and is focused on increasing Ukraine’s military force capabilities.

    During the 2016 election, President-elect Donald Trump criticized other NATO members for not meeting the alliance’s minimum requirement to spend 2 percent of their GDP on defense.

    Carter also pointed out that 24 NATO members are meeting or are set to meet defense spending goals on certain capability priorities.

    In 2016, NATO increased its military presence on the border with Russia. Moscow has repeatedly stated Russia does not pose a threat to Europe, and called the amassing of troops and military equipment on its borders provocative act that can destabilize the region and the world.

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