March 25, 2023

Taking global centre stage, Kamala Harris lays down hard US line against Russia – Times of India

WASHINGTON: Taking global security and foreign policy centrestage for the first time at the Munich Security Conference, US vice-president Kamala Harris laid down a hard line against Russia on Saturday, suggesting the US would be willing to go to war to defend core American principles underlying Nato, including the right of nations to choose their own alliances and not redrawing borders by force.
Harris warned Russia that if it went ahead with invading Ukraine, the US alliance will not stop with economic measures, but “will further reinforce our Nato Allies on the eastern flank.”
The US has already deployed an additional 6,000 American service members to Romania, Poland, and Germany and put another 8,500 service members in the United States on a heightened sense of readiness, and Harris indicated even greater commitment, echoing President Biden’s assertion that the US, while not deploying troops inside Ukraine, “will defend every inch of Nato territory.”
In a tough speech to the world’s security boffins that was also aimed at Moscow — which did not attend the conference for the first time in 20 years — Harris pushed back against Russian charges of Nato expansionism by asserting defining American principles, among them: that people have a right to choose their own form of government; that nations have a right to choose their own alliances; that sovereignty and territorial integrity of all states must be respected; and that national borders should not be changed by force.
“These principles have brought us peace and security. The backbone of this, of course, is Nato — the greatest military alliance the world has ever seen,” Harris said, asserting that America’s commitment to Article 5 — which enjoins common defense if any one Nato member is attacked — “is ironclad…(and) sacrosanct to me, to President Biden, and to our entire nation.”
The US vice-president also rejected any notion that there is domestic and transatlantic disunity over taking on Russia, pointing to a bipartisan congressional delegation at the conference who despite “a wide range of political views…stand together in recognition of the value and the importance of our Nato Alliance.”
Harris has been pilloried at home — mainly by the Trumpian right-wing — for being an ineffective vice-president even though President Biden has entrusted her with weighty work portfolio. Memes suggesting she should pay more attention to the US southern border and stem illegal immigration there rather than worrying about European borders has been a recurrent theme in the right wing echo chamber.
In Munich, Harris also pushed back at analysts who are questioning the staying power of the West and whether the transatlantic community was losing its cohesion, its influence, its appeal, saying the US and its allies and partners are “closer together… … clear in our purpose…even more confident in our vision” today.
Deep distrust of Russia and its protestations underlined Harris’ remarks as she accused Moscow of creating a “false pretense” and essaying “disinformation, lies, and propaganda” in preparation for invading Ukraine.
“Russia continues to claim it is ready for talks while, at the same time, it narrows the avenues for diplomacy. Their actions simply do not match their words,” Harris said.
Russia on its part says it is the US that is not heeding its security concerns as it pushes its Nato alliance to its doorstep.

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