President Donald Trump says he wants to improve relations between the United States and Russia, and he met in July with Russia President Vladimir Putin largely in a purported effort to move toward this goal. Yet, the Trump administration continues to send more US troops and military equipment to along the Russia border, including in Norway. Around 300 US Marines were deployed to Norway in the final days of the Barack Obama administration. Then, last week, Reuters reported that the Trump administration will soon more than double to 700 the number of Marines in Norway and that some Marines will be stationed closer than before to Norway’s border with Russia.
The plans, the Reuters article notes, “triggered a sharp reaction from Moscow, which called the plans ‘clearly unfriendly’.” No doubt. As peace advocate and three-time presidential candidate Ron Paul has often commented, Americans would be quite perturbed if Russia, China, or some other nation started massing military forces across the border in Mexico or in the Gulf of Mexico. Why should Russians not be perturbed by the massing of US forces nearby in Europe — along with the successive introduction of European nations near Russia into the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)?
In a debate with Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton about a month before Trump’s election to the presidency, Trump declared “I think it would be great if we get along with Russia.” Many times since, as president, Trump has reiterated his desire for better relations with Russia. However, actions speak louder than words, and the actions the Trump administration has been taking toward Russia, from increasing US military forces along the Russian border to expelling dozens of Russia diplomats from America to keeping in place and adding new Russia sanctions, are hard to interpret as anything but unfriendly.