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Mar 5, 2014

U.S. lawmakers divided on Russia sanctions, eye vote on Ukraine aid

WASHINGTON, March 5 (Reuters) – U.S. lawmakers could vote
within days on legislation to aid Ukraine’s government as it
tries to rebuild the country and struggles to halt Russian
incursions, but are still far apart on what action to take
against Russia.

Republican leaders in the House of Representatives on
Wednesday made a rare show of support for President Barack
Obama, saying they would work with the White House to address
the crisis in Ukraine.

Mar 5, 2014

More U.S. jets on NATO patrol in Baltics amid Ukraine crisis: source

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Pentagon will more than double the number of U.S. fighter jets on a NATO air patrol mission in the Baltics and do more training with Poland’s air force as it strives to reassure allies alarmed by the crisis in Ukraine, officials said on Wednesday.

General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told a Senate hearing that he had directed the U.S. military’s European Command to “consult and plan within the construct of the North Atlantic Council” while stressing the intent was to help stabilize the situation in Ukraine.

Mar 5, 2014

Pentagon boosts training, NATO air policing amid Ukraine crisis

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. military said on Wednesday it will bolster training with Poland’s air force and provide more U.S. aircraft to a NATO air policing mission in the Baltics, as it eyes ways to reassure allies without escalating the Ukraine crisis.

The United States has showed no interest in pursuing military options following the Russian intervention in Crimea. The biggest step the Pentagon had taken so far was to cut off military exchanges with Russia on Monday.

Mar 4, 2014

U.S. halts military engagements with Russia in rebuke over Ukraine

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States on Monday suspended all military engagements with Russia, including military exercises and port visits, as Washington sought ways to punish Moscow over its military intervention in Ukraine without escalating the crisis.

The announcement from the Pentagon came hours after President Barack Obama warned the U.S. government will look at a series of economic and diplomatic sanctions that would isolate Moscow. The United States also put trade and investment talks with Russia on hold.

Mar 3, 2014

Obama must carefully calibrate Russia response, rhetoric: Gates

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Barack Obama needs to look “two or three moves out” as he weighs his response to Russia’s seizure of Ukraine’s Crimea Peninsula, which Moscow is unlikely to soon reverse, Obama’s former defense secretary, Robert Gates, said on Sunday.

Gates, a Russia expert and former CIA chief, portrayed a difficult path for Obama in which European allies may “huff and puff” but fail to match rhetoric with strong action and where Russian President Vladimir Putin feels he has the upper hand.

Feb 26, 2014

NATO chief still hopes to salvage new Afghan mission

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – NATO’s chief said on Wednesday he still hoped plans to keep troops in Afghanistan beyond this year could be salvaged despite objections by President Hamid Karzai that have called the mission into question.

NATO plans to keep a scaled-down training mission with around 8,000 to 12,000 soldiers in Afghanistan after international troops end combat operations by year-end.

Feb 25, 2014

Eyeing Afghan exit, U.S. intensifies campaign against Haqqani militants

KABUL/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States has intensified its drive against the Taliban-linked Haqqani network in an attempt to deal a lasting blow to the militants in Afghanistan before foreign combat forces depart this year, according to multiple U.S. officials.

The effort is taking on added urgency as the clock ticks down on a NATO combat mission in Afghanistan set to end in December, and as questions persist about whether Pakistan will take action against a group some U.S. officials believe is quietly supported by Pakistani intelligence.

Feb 25, 2014

Obama prepared to leave no troops in Afghanistan after 2014

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Barack Obama has told the Pentagon to prepare for the possibility that the United States will not leave behind any troops in Afghanistan after its troop drawdown at the end of this year, the White House said on Tuesday.

Obama said he had given the order to the Pentagon in a phone call on Tuesday to Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who has refused to sign a bilateral security agreement that the United States insists it must have before agreeing to leave a contingent of troops behind.

Feb 21, 2014

Pentagon plays down intelligence officer’s provocative China assessment

WASHINGTON, Feb 20 (Reuters) – The Pentagon on Thursday
played down remarks by a senior Navy intelligence officer who
told a public forum that he believed China was training its
forces to be capable of carrying out a “short, sharp” war with
Japan in the East China Sea.

The comments by Captain James Fanell, director of
intelligence and information operations at the U.S. Pacific
Fleet, were little noticed when he made them last week at a
conference on maritime strategy called “West 2014″ in San Diego.
They can be seen here: link.reuters.com/qyq96v

Feb 20, 2014

Anyone home? Ukraine isn’t taking the Pentagon’s calls

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has been unable to get anyone on the phone at Ukraine’s defense ministry over the past several days as violence flared and Kiev named a new head of the armed forces general staff, the Pentagon said on Thursday.

“We haven’t been able to connect with anybody from the Defense Ministry there in Ukraine,” spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby told a Pentagon news briefing.

    • About Phil

      "Phil Stewart has worked for Reuters since 1998 and reported from more than 30 countries, including Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, China and Egypt. Before becoming a Washington D.C.-based military affairs and intelligence reporter, Phil covered terrorism, foreign affairs and the Vatican from Rome from 2004 until mid-2009. He has also previously been based in Colombia and Brazil as a foreign correspondent. Before joining Reuters, Phil covered U.S. politics out of Washington D.C. for States News Service. He earned his BS in international relations from Georgetown University's School of Foreign Service. He speaks English, Spanish, Portuguese and Italian. ..."
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