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Cotton Questions Army General on Russian Aggression Against the United States

April 21, 2016

Contact: Caroline Rabbitt (202) 224-2353

Washington, D.C.- Today during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) questioned General Curtis Scaparrotti, nominee for Commander of the United States European Command, about Russian aggression against the United States. Specifically, he questioned General Scaparrotti on Russian aircrafts' recent fly-bys of U.S. ships and aircrafts and Russia's relationship with NATO. Excerpts from his questions can be found below. Additonaly, a video of the exchange can be found here

I want to return to a question a few of the Senators have addressed about Russian aircraft flying by first one of our ships and then one of our aircrafts in northern Europe. I know you are not aware of all of the circumstances to specify a response but does activity like that call for some kind of response?

Is that because with no response it emboldens Putin's Russia to probe even further?

Need that response be symmetrical, must we fly by one of their ships or one of their aircraft, or could it be asymmetrical? For example, Javelin showing up on the border in Ukraine and Russia?

Whatever the response may be, even if its not a public response, Vladimir Putin needs to understand that it is a response.

Vladimir Putin and many other analysts in Russia often site historical grievances for their activity in places like the Ukraine to bolster themselves domestically. They site three grievances in particular -- the collapse of Warsaw Pact, the collapse and disintegration of the Soviet Union, and NATO expansion into those historically Russian dominated territories. Do you think that is a fair account for what has happened in the post-Cold War era?

And given that countries like Poland, Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia have all chosen freely to join NATO do you think there is any truth to his claims that these are lands that are traditionally oriented to the East?

And the final claim that he makes about NATO expansion is that this is an aggressive action towards Russia and could threaten their territorial integrity and sovereignty. Has NATO been investing lately in large scale rearmaments of the kind that would launch a massive land invasion of Russia?

To look at this claim from the other direction has Russia been investing in massive defensive buildups, say building tank ditches on its border with NATO or moving in other kinds of massive defensive weaponry to forestall this supposed invasion of Russia?

Based on the historical record as well as their own investments it suggests to me that Vladimir Putin's narrative about the west is maybe another classic Russian campaign of disinformation.