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Russian lawmakers skeptical about new NATO commander in Europe

New commander of NATO’s armed forces in Europe US General Curtis Scaparotti mentioned Russia among NATO’s main security challenges in his first speech at the ceremony of assuming command
Curtis Scaparrotti EPA/JEON HEON-KYUN/POOL
Curtis Scaparrotti

MOSCOW, May 5. /TASS/. The appointment of US General Curtis Scaparotti as new commander of NATO’s armed forces in Europe gives no hope for improvement of the alliance’s relations with Russia, as follows from what several members of the Russian parliament’s upper house (Federation Council) told the media on Thursday.

The head of the council’s international affairs committee, Konstantin Kosachyov, said about Scaparotti’s appointment instead of Philip Breedlove "the news ends where it begins."

"The newly-appointed commander has already mentioned reviving Russia, which seeks to position itself in the capacity of a world power among the challenges facing the alliance," Kosachyov said. "In other words, he is unhappy not because Russia harbors some malicious designs, but just because it has dared to revive itself, which is a great challenge and an unconditional threat to NATO."

Kosachyov pointed to Scaparotti’s "outright call that followed shortly after his appointment for supporting Ukraine with what it needs and to look into what weapons suit it best" in defiance of the harsh debates on the issue in the US Congress and the opinion of Europe, where "the idea of giving more weapons to Kiev is not very popular, to say the least."

"NATO’s new commander in Europe does not look even a little bit confused about that: he’s made up his mind to see on his own what Ukraine needs," Kosachyov said, adding that NATO generals’ "fit of energy against the backdrop of an aggravation of Russia-West relations is easy to explain."

"Same old song and dance," said the first deputy chairman of the FC’s defense and security committee, Frants Klintsevich. He believes that Scaparotti may even outdo his predecessor Breedlove, notorious for his hawkish views.

Scaparotti’s statement, in which he called upon NATO members to get prepared to take military action against Russia was devoid of any political correctness and the slightest hint at cooperation, Klintsevich said.

"In fact we have been told outright that interaction with Russia in Syria is totally different from European affairs," he said.

By the way, "the personality of this or that commander of NATO’s forces in Europe makes little difference, of course, but what Scaparotti said was worth hearing."

"We did hear what he said and we grew still more certain that NATO’s strategy in Europe, devised overseas, will undergo no change in the foreseeable future. Consequently, Russia is to take certain steps to strengthen its borders in the West," he concluded.

New NATO forces chief excels predecessor in ‘military hysteria instigation’

Head of the State Duma Foreign Affairs Committee Alexey Pushkov said on Thursday that General Curtis Scaparrotti has excelled his predecessor Philip Breedlove in instigating military hysteria.

"By stating that NATO should be ready to fight already tonight with Russia, the new NATO commander has excelled his predecessor in instigating military hysteria," the lawmaker wrote on his Twitter account.

In his first speech at the ceremony of assuming command at the alliance’s Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe (SHAPE) in Mons, Belgium, Scaparrotti mentioned Russia among NATO’s main security challenges. He noted, in particular, that NATO would continue to maintain its strategy of deterrence towards Russia and must be able "to fight tonight," if it failed.

Scaparrotti took the helm of NATO's European Command from another US general, Philip Breedlove. The post of the NATO European Command chief is traditionally assigned to the US military as the United States principally does not allow placing its armed forces under the command of generals from other countries.