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General Says West's Defense Industrial Base Will Outpace Russia's

It's easy for an autocratic regime like Russia to accelerate their defense industrial base at the expense of its economy to continue its war in Ukraine, along with help from Iran and North Korea, said Air Force Lt. Gen. Steven L. Basham.

Basham, deputy commander, U.S. European Command, spoke yesterday at the livestreamed Foundation for Defense of Democracies event, "Transatlantic Security After 75 Years of NATO."

The West's defense industrial base is also accelerating, he said.

Sailors load ammunition onto a ship.
Lincoln Loading
Sailors onload ammunition from the pier onto the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln in San Diego, May 2, 2024.
Photo By: Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Valerie Morrison
VIRIN: 240502-N-NA571-1592R
A sailor loads ammunition into a machine gun.
Loading Ammo
Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Matthew Rehmke loads ammunition into an M240B machine gun during a live fire exercise on the fantail aboard the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan in the Philippine Sea, May 6, 2024.
Photo By: Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Jonathan Estrada-Eguizabal
VIRIN: 240506-N-FQ639-1088
"Make no mistake. It's picking up speed. It will continue to accelerate past the capability of Russia. The time that is being spent by Russia inside Ukraine is also time that we have to get our industrial base to where it needs to be," Basham said.

"Russia, a country that used to pride [itself] as a defense exporter. [Now] they seem to be importing an awful lot of not only equipment, but also technology. And a lot of that technology is actually coming from China. The challenges that Russia faces in their own equipment, they're actually making up for by developing that relationship with China," he said.

"The defense of our nation starts well outside the borders of the United States," he said. "All [that Ukraine is] asking for is our continued unwavering, consistent, continuous support. I think that's actually what they're getting right now. We've just got to stay that course. And I think we need to do a much better job of explaining [that to] the American people," he said.

A soldier counts ammunition.
Counting Ammo
A U.S. soldier, assigned to the 1st Battalion, 187th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, counts ammunition while participating in a combined arms live fire exercise at Grafenwoehr Training Area, Germany, May 7, 2024.
Photo By: Army Spc. Zoe Tourne
VIRIN: 240508-A-YP079-7335

The U.S., its allies and partners are becoming stronger and are standing up to Russia's aggression, he said, noting Finland and Sweden's recent accession into NATO.

Basham spoke of the importance of defending NATO, saying, "Make no mistake. No matter how this ends in Ukraine, Russia will not stop with Ukraine unless they're stopped in Ukraine."

Presence matters, he said, referring to U.S. troop deployments to Europe.

"You have to be with your allies to be able to integrate. You have to be with your allies to campaign, to exercise. And by the way, it can't be just episodic," he said, regarding U.S. commitment to NATO.

Basham addressed the challenge from China, noting that like Russia, Beijing is a global threat, including its malign influence in Europe, particularly in the areas of space and cyber.

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