The overarching strategy of the United States towards Russia is to deter Russia from confrontation by raising the costs of its aggression. This includes strengthening the military, economic, and political foundations of American power.
“Our Russia policy proceeds from the recognition that, to be effective, U.S. diplomacy must be backed by military power,” said Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs Wess Mitchell in congressional testimony.“To that end, we have reversed years of cuts to the defense budget, begun the process of recapitalizing the U.S. nuclear arsenal, requested close to 11 billion dollars for the European Deterrence Initiative, and worked within NATO to bring about more than 40 billion dollars in new European defense spending.”
Through diplomatic expulsions and targeted sanctions, the U.S. has worked in close coordination with European allies to degrade Russian President Vladimir Putin’s ability to conduct aggression by imposing costs on the Russian state as well as on the oligarchs close to Putin who help to sustain the state.
“Even as [the U.S. has] imposed unprecedented penalties for Russian aggression,” said Dr. Mitchell, “we have been clear that the door to dialogue is open.”
“In Syria,” Dr. Mitchell said, “we created de-escalation channels to avoid collisions between our forces. In Ukraine, we have maintained an effort under Ambassador Kurt Volker to provide the means by which Russia can live up to its commitments under the Minsk Agreements.” But in all these areas, it is up to Russia to take the next step.
The U.S. has bolstered frontline states in Europe. “In Ukraine and Georgia,” said Assistant Secretary Mitchell, “we lifted restrictions on the acquisition of defensive weapons. In the Balkans, we have played a hands-on role in resolving the Greece-Macedonia name dispute and engaging with Serbia and Kosovo to propel the EU-led dialogue. From the Caucasus to Central Europe we are promoting energy diversification, fighting corruption, and competing for hearts and minds.”
Russia foments and funds both sides of controversial causes in an effort to destabilize societies and governments. Countering such threats in both its overt and covert forms is among the highest priorities of the U.S. government and our NATO allies.
The United States is committed to countering Russian aggression and malign activities. At the same time, the door to dialogue is open – our respective National Security Advisors have met in Geneva - should Russia choose to take steps toward a constructive path.