Cavoli: US Must ‘Stay the Course’ in Europe

Cavoli: US Must ‘Stay the Course’ in Europe

Soldiers training Ukraine army
Photo by: U.S. Army/Sgt. Spencer Rhodes

The war in Ukraine is “far from over” as Russia remains a significant threat and China continues to increase its influence in several European sectors, the officer in charge of U.S. forces in Europe said.

In testimony before the House Armed Services Committee, Gen. Christopher Cavoli, commander of U.S. European Command and NATO’s supreme allied commander, said the U.S. “remains optimistic for Ukraine’s future, but this war is far from over,” because while Russia shows no sign of relenting, it is not the only problem facing the European alliance.

“The People's Republic of China continues to increase its access and influence in our theater, and its activities pose a risk to U.S., allied and partner interests,” Cavoli said during the April 26 hearing, where he testified alongside Celeste Wallander, assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs.

Cavoli explained that China wields its power through “foreign direct investment, government-backed business ventures and loans to gain access to technology and to get control over vital European infrastructure and transportation routes.”

Russia and China also “have grown closer together,” a friendship that has been enhanced by China’s diplomatic, political and moral support for the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which has also helped Russia at home, Cavoli said.

The alliance between Russia and China is compounded by other challenges in Europe, such as the activities of violent extremist organizations, uncontrolled migration, organized crime and the effects of climate change, Cavoli said. He assured the committee that the U.S. “trains and cooperates” with allies and partners to counter those issues as well.

Cavoli also noted that much of the Russian force has not been degraded or negatively affected by the conflict inside Ukraine, specifically the country’s undersea force. The Russians are “more active than we’ve seen them in years,” Cavoli said, conducting patrols on a higher level into the Atlantic Ocean and through the Atlantic region.

Describing the China-Russia alliance as a “development of significant concern,” Cavoli said that he sees “bright spots” in Europe where leaders have taken note of the dangerous friendship and are taking “significant actions to limit the increasing influence, and malign influence where it exists, of the [People’s Republic of China] inside Europe.”

“Staying the course [that] we are on right now is very important,” Cavoli said. “We are in a position where we are moving into a period where the Ukrainians will conduct offensive operations, we have good, solid plans to continue to support them.”