13:30 GMT +320 September 2018
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    US President Donald Trump signed the $716 billion National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for the fiscal year 2019 at Fort Drum, New York on Monday.

    The bill funds the Department of Defense as well as funding to accelerate US efforts to field a conventional prompt strike capability before 2022, $6.3 billion for the European Deterrence Initiative (EDI), and will obligate Defense Secretary James Mattis to submit a plan to Congress that would stop Turkey from getting F-35 aircraft if it purchases the Russian S-400 air defense system.

    "An assessment of the potential purchase by the Government of the Republic of Turkey of the S-400 air and missile defense system from the Russian Federation and the potential effects of such purchase on the United States-Turkey bilateral relationship, including an assessment of impacts on other United States weapon systems and platforms operated jointly with the Republic of Turkey," the legislation said.

    The 2019 NDAA also authorizes lethal defensive assistance to Ukraine while urging the need for reforms in the country.

    "[The bill authorizes] support robust security sector assistance for Ukraine, including defensive lethal assistance, while promoting necessary reforms of the defense institutions of Ukraine," the text of the 2019 NDAA, signed into law by President Donald Trump on Monday, revealed.

    The funds President Donald Trump requested for Ukraine include $250 million for lethal defensive items, the NDAA said. The bill introduces funds for Ukraine under the category of measures to counter Russia's military aggression.

    The legislation also authorizes extra support for Georgia while the country is exploring an opportunity to become a member of NATO. Under the NDAA for 2019, the United States aims to increase the frequency and scale of military drills in the Black Sea in collaboration with Ukraine and Georgia.

    Moreover, according to the NDAA, Trump must submit a report to the US Congress by January 2019 regarding whether Russia is in breach of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty.

    "Not later than January 15, 2019, the President shall submit to the appropriate congressional committees a determination whether — (1) the Russian federation is in material breach of its obligations under the INF Treaty; and (2) the prohibitions set forth in Article VI of the INF Treaty remain binding on the United States as a matter of United States law," the NDAA said.

    In addition, the United States will discuss with Russia if the latter’s new strategic weapon systems are in compliance with the New Strategic Arms Reduction (START) Treaty.

    "Not later than December 31, 2018, the President shall… submit to the appropriate congressional committees a report as to whether… the President has raised the issue of covered Russian systems in the appropriate fora with the Russian Federation under Article V of the New START Treaty or otherwise," the legislation said.

    The NDAA also notes that the Russian systems of concern include the heavy intercontinental missile system Sarmat, the air-launched nuclear-powered cruise missile X-101, the unmanned underwater vehicle the US government calls "Status 6," and the long-distance guided flight hypersonic glide vehicle Avangard.

    Trump must report if Russia will agree to declare the covered systems as strategic offensive arms or otherwise pursuant to the New START Treaty, the legislation said.

    The White House will notify the appropriate congressional committees as to whether the position of Russia threatens the viability of the New START Treaty or requires appropriate US political, economic or military responses, the legislation also said.

    Moreover, the 2019 US National Defense Authorization Act revealed that Trump must present to Congress within 90 days a report on persons involved in transactions with Russia’s intelligence or military sectors.

    "Not later than 90 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the President shall submit to the appropriate congressional committees a report that describes those persons that the President has determined under section 231 of the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act [CAATSA]… have knowingly engaged, on or after August 2, 2017, in a significant transaction with a person that is part of, or operates for or on behalf of, the defense or intelligence sectors of the Government of the Russian Federation, the NDAA showed on Monday.

    The NDAA also requires the US President to update such a report every 90 days following the first submission for the next five years.

    Meanwhile, the bill also reinforces US partnership with Israel and authorizes co-production of missile defense systems as well as enhances US support for European partners against Russia by funding the European Deterrence Initiative.

    Particularly, the Department of Defense must submit a report to Congress by next March on the feasibility of permanent deployment of US troops in Poland.

    "Not later than March 1, 2019, the Secretary of Defense, in coordination with the Secretary of State, shall submit to the congressional defense committees a report on the feasibility and advisability of permanently stationing United States forces in the Republic of Poland," the document said.

    "The report required by subsection (a) shall include the following: An assessment of the types of permanently stationed United States forces in Poland required to deter aggression by the Russian Federation and execute Department of Defense contingency plans, including combat enabler units in capability areas such as (A) combat engineering; (B) logistics and sustainment; (C) warfighting headquarters elements; (D) long-range fires; (E) air and missile defense; (F) intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance; and (G) electronic warfare," the NDAA said.

    The NDAA also explained that an assessment of the permanent deployment feasibility should include an evaluation whether a US permanent deployment would increase deterrence against Russian as well as an assessment of Russia’s possible response.

    In addition, the report should consist of an "assessment of the international political considerations of permanently stationing such a brigade combat team in Poland, including within the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)," the NDAA said.

    Notably, the United States will also accelerate its hypersonic missile defense program and provide a report within 90 days to congressional defense committees.

    "Subject to the availability of appropriations, the Director of the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) shall accelerate the hypersonic missile defense program of the Missile Defense Agency," the document said.

    The NDAA requires head of the Missile Defense Agency to "deploy such program in conjunction with a persistent space-based missile defense sensor program."

    NDAA provides 90 days for Missile Defense Agency to submit a report on the hypersonic missile defense program to the US Senate and House of Representatives defense committees.

    The report, which may include classified annex along with unclassified content, should provide an estimate of the cost, technical requirements and acquisition plan, the NDAA said.

    US Halts Funding of Open Skies Treaty Enforcement With Russia

    The United States will not obligate any funds to implement the Open Skies Treaty until penalties are imposed against Russia for previous violations, the 2019 NDAA revealed.

    "None of the funds authorized to be appropriated by this Act… may be obligated or expended to carry out any activities to modify any United States aircraft for purposes of implementing the Open Skies Treaty," the legislation said on Monday.

    The suspension is in place until the president certifies to Congress that penalties have been imposed on Russia for previous treaty violations, the document said.

    In June 2017, the United States said Moscow was violating the terms of the Open Skies Treaty by placing restrictions on overflights of Kaliningrad, Russia's enclave on the Baltic Sea. The United States said it would implement restrictions on Russian observation flights over the United States on January 1, 2018.

    The Russian Foreign Ministry has said it has complied with its obligations under all international agreements including the Open Skies Treaty

    The Treaty on Open Skies was signed in 1992 and became one of the measures to build confidence in post-Cold War Europe. It has been operating since 2002 and allows participating countries to openly collect information on each other's military forces and activities.

    The treaty covers most NATO member states as well as Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, Georgia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Sweden and Finland. As a rule, flights of Russia and NATO member states are conducted on a reciprocal basis.

    US Extends Ban on Bilateral Military Cooperation With Russia

    The NDAA also revealed that the US government extended its ban against cooperating militarily with Russia in a bilateral format.

    The prohibition remained in effect this year and with the law signed by Trump continues the ban through 2019.

    The prohibition, first enacted in the 2017 NDAA, says none of the funds authorized may be used for any bilateral military-to-military cooperation with Russia until Moscow implements the Minsk accords and returns Crimea to Ukrainian sovereignty.

    However, the 2019 law adds a provision — missing from two previous NDAAs — that explicitly authorizes negotiations between Washington and Moscow.

    "Nothing in subsection (a) shall be construed to limit bilateral military-to-military dialogue between the United States and the Russian Federation for the purpose of reducing the risk of conflict," the 2019 NDAA stated.

    The US and Russian militaries currently maintain a deconfliction line to avoid confrontations during operations in the Middle East.

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    freeze, spending, violation, defense, Treaty on Open Skies, United States, Russia
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