Experts gather at high profile conference to discuss deterring Russian aggression

Chiefs of Defence from eleven northern European countries gathered on Friday in Oslo to discuss a variety of topics at the 2018 Northern European Chief of Defence Conference. The main focus of the conference was deterring Russian aggression. 

General Curtis M. Scaparrotti, commander U.S. European Command, was the senior U.S. military official who attended the conference, which was hosted by the Norwegian Chief of Defence, Admiral Haakon Bruun Hanssen. 

The two leaders opened the conference by highlighting their mutual appreciation for one another's collaboration and the benefits of partnering to address the regional challenges faced today.

"The United States and Norway have a long history of cooperation and we value your partnership," Scaparrotti said. "We're pleased to be here today and to work so closely with you."

The objective of the conference was to facilitate an open and candid dialogue to enhance cooperation among the northern European countries in support of enduring stability and peace during a period of emerging challenges.

Presentations from both U.S. and Norway leaders helped facilitate the discussion among the group. 

Topics focused on how nations can work more closely together to address disinformation and Russian malign influence, cyber threats and critical infrastructure protection, future military deployments and exercises in the region.

"We must be resolute and adaptable as we work together as a team to maintain our momentum," Scaparrotti said.  

Conference participants represented Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Germany, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Poland, Sweden and the United States. 

U.S. European Command is one of two U.S. forward-deployed geographic combatant commands whose area of focus spans across Europe, portions of Asia and the Middle East, the Arctic and Atlantic oceans. The command is comprised of more than 60,000 military and civilian personnel and is responsible for U.S. defence operations, relations with NATO and 51 countries.

Meanwhile, a report by the Warsaw Institute says the Helsinki summit between Presidents Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin did not bring any breakthrough in relations between the two countries as the diplomatic crisis has only deepened since that time. 

The report, “Putin’s Helsinki: Tactical Success, Strategic Failure” is a comprehensive summary of the Helsinki Summit with the participation of Presidents Trump and Putin, which will go down in history as one of the strangest meetings between U.S. and Russian leaders. Moscow’s victorious approach inflamed its political opponents and triggered an immediate reaction – new U.S. sanctions. Once again, Putin – an excellent tactical player – turned out to be a fatal strategist.

It says "As a result, no sanctions against Russia may be lifted nor restricted while it is not certain whether any further restrictions will be introduced in the near future. Trump’s fawning behaviour bolstered Russia’s critics in the USA and made it possible to undertake other anti-Russian steps, including more punitive measures.

"Following the Helsinki summit, the U.S.-led decisive policy encouraged Russian opponents of better relations with the United States to continue their hitherto practices. At the same time, the U.S. authorities have seemingly strengthened Moscow’s “party of the war”.

"Putin has taken advantage of his exhaustive face-to-face conversation with Trump as well as following suggestions, some vague hints, not to forget little fortunate statements by his American counterpart at a press conference; thanks to all that, the Russian President could develop an information offensive only a few days after the summit."

The report, seen by this website, adds, "So the Russians were able to play with the American consternation, for instance by imposing their own interpretation on the alleged arrangements – even if each subsequent weeks brought some information about the lack of such compromise. Nonetheless, the Helsinki summit has shown that Russia was apt to carry out information warfare operations."

It continues, "Apart from “moral satisfaction” – as it was referred to as by some commentators – Putin did not gain much during the meeting in the Finnish capital. In addition, not only did the summit make Trump weaker but it also strengthened anti-Russian milieu in the United States. Such state of affairs is evidenced by a blatant increase in the Congress’ pressure on the U.S. President to take necessary steps against Russia such as implementing the CAATSA and the Magnitsky Act, hitting Russia’s banking system and recognition it as a “state sponsor of terrorism”.

It says,"And Putin is already aware that Trump will neither lift the sanctions nor will he make any concessions on some key issues for his country. Thus, he ceases to be useful anymore. It would seem that in this case Russia will break with his policy of “good Trump” and “bad Congress”; however, the Kremlin has no intention of doing so. 

"The American leader can potentially be used in a completely different way, for example as a conflict-maker, who will be constantly destabilizing the situation in the country."

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Martin Banks

Martin Banks

Martin Banks is a highly qualified journalist with many years experience of working within the EU institutions. He is an occasional, and highly valued, contributor to EU today, writing on a wide variety of issues.

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