15:02 GMT25 November 2020
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    The appointment of General James Mattis as US Secretary of Defense will not prod the new US Administration to see NATO's eastward expansion as a foreign policy priority, Russian military expert Vladimir Anokhin told Sputnik Czech.

    In an interview with Sputnik Czech, Colonel Vladimir Anokhin, vice-president of the Moscow-based Academy of Geopolitical Problems, a think tank, said that the new US administration will not make NATO's eastward expansion a priority following the appointment of General James Mattis to the post of US Secretary of Defense.

    The interview came after Czech Defense Minister Martin Stropnicky was quoted by the media as saying that the nomination of General Mattis to be US Secretary of Defense is seen as promising by those who favor the continuation of the previous American policy within NATO.

    "James Mattis, who is nicknamed 'mad dog', will be interested in Eastern Europe to a lesser degree. All the attention, as we understand, will be focused on the elimination of the Daesh terrorist group and the first steps in this direction are already being taken," Anokhin said.

    As an example, he referred to the Trump Administration scrapping Obama's plan to storm the Daesh capital Raqqa in Iraq and Washington considering new foreign allies to help fight Daesh.

    "So I think that focusing on Eastern Europe and strengthening US and NATO clout in Poland and the Baltic states will be put on the back burner by Washington," Anokhin added.

    He also remained skeptical about Washington's reaction to the Czech Republic's recent initiative to contribute to the strengthening of the eastern wing of the alliance by deploying its battalion for the NATO Response Force.

    "Washington is very unlikely to be impressed by the Czech Republic's military activity. Thanks to his immense experience, the new US Secretary of Defense is well aware of the military potential of each member of the Visegrad Four," Anokhin pointed out.

    The Visegrad Four, or the Visegrad Group, is a cultural and political alliance comprised of the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia.

    The group was formed in February 1991 for the purpose of furthering their European integration, as well as for advancing military, economic and energy cooperation with one another.

    Anokhin also drew attention to Russia responding in kind to NATO's decision to deploy its battalions in Poland and the three Baltic countries.

    "There is no direct military threat, but the potential for one is certainly there. But I think that no one is going to wage war, including Russia. As for NATO, it wants to either draw Russia into an arms race or help the American military-industrial complex to capitalize on the situation," he concluded.

    Earlier, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said that Russia has a negative attitude toward the further expansion of NATO to the east, including the possible admission of Montenegro to the alliance.

    The spokesman added that Moscow would abstain from commenting on media reports regarding Montenegro's accession to NATO, stressing that it received no official statements on the issue from US President Donald Trump's administration.

    On Monday, media reported that US National Security Adviser Mike Flynn would allegedly recommend Trump to support Montenegro's accession to NATO, which was announced for the first time in 2015.

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