NATO urged to ward off ‘serious’ Russian challenge

NATO urged to ward off ‘serious’ Russian challenge

NATO urged to ward off ‘serious’ Russian challenge

AP photo

NATO’s parliamentary assembly on May 30 called on members of the Western military alliance to be ready to respond to the “potential threat” of Russian aggression against them, while the alliance’s  secretary-general said that an upcoming “landmark summit” will enhance the alliance’s defensive and deterrent presence in Poland and in the region. 

The assembly issued May 30 a unanimous declaration of proposals after a three-day meeting in Tirana, ahead of a landmark NATO summit in Warsaw in July.

“The challenge from Russia is real and serious,” said Michael Turner, the U.S. president of the assembly, which gathered around 250 lawmakers from the 28 member states, according to AFP.

The declaration expressed regret over “Russia’s use of force against its neighbors and attempted intimidation of [NATO] Allies.”

It said this had “left NATO no choice but to consider the prospect of aggressive Russian action against an Alliance member as a potential threat, and to adopt measured, proportionate responses.”

The assembly’s declaration also urged NATO allies to “provide reassurance” to members who feel their security is under threat, especially on NATO’s eastern and southern flanks.

At the Warsaw summit, NATO leaders will formally endorse an alliance revamp putting more troops into eastern European member states as part of a “deter and dialogue” strategy.

Russia fiercely opposes the move, meant to reassure eastern allies spooked by its 2014 annexation of the Crimean peninsula from Ukraine and the pro-Moscow revolt that followed in the country’s east.  

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg echoed the parliamentary assembly’s stance during a May 30 visit to alliance member Poland.  

Speaking in Warsaw, he said NATO was sending a “clear signal to any potential adversary that an attack on Poland will be considered an attack on the whole alliance.” 

Stoltenberg also said that the upcoming summit in Warsaw would enhance the alliance’s defensive and deterrent presence in Poland and in the region, but decisions as to the number still had not been finalized.

He said that several battalions will be placed in Poland, the Baltic States and elsewhere in the region that will raise NATO presence in troops, equipment, prepositioning and infrastructure. The U.S. will be adding an armored brigade, the Associated Press reported. 

Stoltenberg said the exact numbers and locations of the enhanced NATO troop presence are still being debated and the decisions will be made before the summit. It will be a rotational, international presence, he said.

“So let me be clear: there will be more NATO troops in Poland after the Warsaw Summit,” Stoltenberg said after meeting Polish President Andrzej Duda.

Along with Romania, Poland became a target for Russian ire after it agreed to host a U.S. and NATO anti-missile system that Moscow regards as a security threat.

NATO, however, insists the shield is not directed against Russia, but is instead designed to counter threats from so-called “rogue states” in the Middle East.

“It is directed against threats coming from outside the Euro-Atlantic area,” Stoltenberg insisted.