Politics

New National Security Adviser: No Friend to Russia?

McMaster has warned against Russian military might, plans to disrupt Europe

Lt. Gen. Herbert Raymond “H.R.” McMaster, President Donald Trump’s new national security adviser. (Photo Courtesy of U.S. Army)

Lt. Gen. Herbert Raymond “H.R.” McMaster, President Donald Trump’s new pick as national security adviser, does not appear to be a friend of Russia. 

He’s warned that the Kremlin wants to disrupt the post-World War II security and political order in Europe. And he was behind the “Russia New Generation Warfare Study,” which was prompted by concerns over the country’s growing military might.

McMaster replaces Michael Flynn, a retired U.S. Army lieutenant general who resigned amidst questions about his contacts with Russia and how forthright he’d been about those contacts with Vice President Mike Pence and others in the administration. Flynn lasted less than a month as national security adviser.

McMaster discussed the threat from Russia at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington last May, specifically mentioning the annexation of Crimea and Russia’s involvement in Ukraine.

Russia, he said, was “invading Ukraine at zero cost, consolidating gains over that territory and portraying the reaction by us and allies and partners as escalatory.”

McMaster said Russia was employing a sophisticated strategy “that combines really conventional forces as cover for unconventional action, but … a much more sophisticated campaign involving the use of criminality and organized crime.”

That was part of “a broader effort to sow doubt and conspiracy theories across our alliance,” he told the CSIS audience. 

The purpose, McMaster said, was not to achieve defense objectives, but offensive objectives, “to collapse the post-World War II, certainly the post-Cold War security, economic, and political order in Europe and replace that order with something that is more sympathetic to Russian interests.”

McMaster also accused Russia of funding “some of the right-wing parties in Europe”, while “taking action in this axis of the Assad regime, the Iranians, and Russia that exacerbates the migration crisis.”

The Russia New Generation Warfare Study, in part, was to identify U.S. vulnerabilities based on Russian capabilities.

“Topping that list is cyber and electronic warfare capabilities,” McMaster said.

At the same event, McMaster also raised questions about China. He said Beijing was exhibiting “analogous strategic behavior” to Moscow in an “an effort to expand territory and expand their influence at the expense of U.S. interests and the security ... of our partners in the region.”

McMaster’s appointment was announced Monday at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort. 

The 55-year-old McMaster is a combat veteran who won the Silver Star, the military’s third-highest award for bravery, during the first Gulf War. He also was described by the White House as having played key roles in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. He has a reputation as being a top intellect and strategist in the Army.

Most recently, McMaster has served as director of the Army Capabilities Integration Center and as deputy commanding general, futures at the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command.

“Gen. McMaster has served with distinction in the United States Army for over three decades and will now bring that tremendous experience to his new post as my national security adviser,” Trump said in a statement.

Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call on your iPhone or your Android.