The Defense Department is losing its top Russia hand, Evelyn Farkas, after five years at the Pentagon and an adult lifetime spent working on European security issues:
As assistant secretary of defense, she traveled widely as part of the ongoing international standoff with Russia over Ukraine. All along, however, Russia has been a deep point of contention between the White House and the Pentagon.
Obama pushed out his previous defense secretary, Chuck Hagel, after he urged a stronger American response to Russia’s aggression. Hagel also questioned the president’s strategy for arming so-called moderate Syrian fighters against the Islamic State, a program that has since all but imploded in an embarrassment for the administration.
Further complicating matters — and uniting those two crises — are Russia’s recent military deployments in Syria, which include some 32 combat aircraft along with attack helicopters, armored vehicles and many troops.
Obama met with Russian President Vladimir Putin Monday on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York to learn more about Russia’s intentions in Syria. Obama has asked for answers from his national security team about Russia, but the limits he has placed on potential U.S. action might mean they don’t have many new options to recommend.
In testimony last year before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Farkas took a hard line on Russia, saying the country’s actions “stand as an affront to the international order that we and our allies have worked to build since the end of the Cold War.”
She seems like a bad fit for the current Administration.