Defense Secretary Ash Carter, in Germany to usher in a new U.S. military commander for Europe, used the opportunity Tuesday to send a blunt warning to Moscow not to provoke the NATO alliance – after recent encounters in the air and on the high seas.

“We do not seek to make Russia an enemy. But make no mistake – we will defend our allies, the rules-based international order, and the positive future it affords us,” Carter said at the U.S. military’s European Command in Stuttgart, Germany. Carter expressed a desire not to start a new Cold War with Russia – or a “hot” one.

But he said Russia seeks to “erode” the peaceful order Europe and the rest of the West have enjoyed since the end of the Cold War. Carter, in vowing the U.S. would defend its allies, warned Russia is increasing its submarine patrols to the North Atlantic. READ MORE