HUFFINGTON POST
09/05/2014 05:49 pm ET Updated Sep 05, 2014

Former NATO Commander Wesley Clark: Russia Remains An ‘Adversary' Until Proven Otherwise

As NATO leaders wrapped up a two-day summit in the city of Wales on Friday, the organization's former military commander warned that its member states would have to be prepared to "go beyond rhetoric."

In an interview with HuffPost Live on Friday, former NATO commander Wesley Clark told host Josh Zepps that if NATO wants to be taken seriously as a defense organization, it needs to back up its statements with meaningful action. “You have to take immediate measures, you can’t wait for the problem to get worse,” he said.

Clark was referring to NATO's stance on the current crisis in Ukraine, where Russian-backed separatists are fighting government troops in the country's east. Ukrainian President Poroshenko announced on Friday that representatives of the government and the rebels had reached a deal to end hostilities in the east. It remains to be seen whether the truce will hold.

In the interview with HuffPost Live, Clark was highly critical of the Russian role in the Ukrainian conflict. The retired 4-star general argued that while Russian President Vladimir Putin may work closely with western countries through trade and weapons deals, he believes the Russian leader's interests fundamentally differ from the West's. “Putin may buy German industrial goods. He may sell natural gas to Europe, [but] Putin is not a West European," Clark said. "He is, right now, an adversary and in the future will remain a potential adversary until proven otherwise.”

Watch the full interview about NATO’s 21st century role here.

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