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NATO urges members to stand up to ‘Russian military assertiveness’

NATO has urged member nations to stand up to what it calls “Russia’s military assertiveness.” The head of the military alliance has also pledged to strengthen the alliance’s forces along its eastern borders.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, in Warsaw to lay the groundwork for NATO’s July summit, said: “I expect leaders at Warsaw to agree on an enhanced forward presence in the east of the alliance.”

“An attack on any ally will be swiftly met by the forces from across the alliance, from both sides of the Atlantic,” he added.

NATO cut cooperation with Moscow following Russia’s Ukraine intervention and annexation of Crimea in 2014. However, the US-led alliance has said it will hold formal talks with Moscow before the July 8-9 summit in Warsaw.

In April, the NATO Russia Council (NRC) held its first meeting since June 2014, but talks ended in “profound disagreements” over Ukraine and other issues.

NATO reiterates pledges

Meanwhile, NATO’s Parliamentary Assembly on Monday unanimously approved a declaration calling on alliance members “to provide reassurance to those allies who feel their security is under threat, focusing on the eastern and southern flanks of the alliance.”

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

Approximately 250 lawmakers from 28 NATO member countries and partners were in Albanian capital, Tirana, for a three-day assembly ending Monday.

The declaration seeks to strengthen conventional and nuclear deterrence measures, heighten NATO military preparedness and boost cooperation with non-NATO members Sweden and Finland.

These objectives are expected to be the center-piece of the July summit, where Polish leaders already have appealed for stronger NATO deployments in the east.

It noted, however, that NATO nations also should “continue to explore ways to reduce tensions with Russia and avoid miscalculations and incidents.”

Russia's President Vladimir Putin makes a speech during a Victory Day military parade marking the 71st anniversary of the Victory over Nazi Germany in World War II, in Moscow's Red Square.Russia’s President Vladimir Putin makes a speech during a Victory Day military parade marking the 71st anniversary of the Victory over Nazi Germany in World War II, in Moscow’s Red Square.

Strong words

“Russia’s aggressiveness comes with a price,” assembly president, US lawmaker Michael R. Turner, said at Tirana. He also appealed to European countries to boost their defense spending.

“Moscow has decided that its own interests are better served if it works against us rather than with us,” said Turner, a Republican in the House of Representatives from Ohio. “The challenge from Russia is real and serious,” Turner added.

NATO Deputy Secretary-General Alexander Vershbow said NATO would maintain dialogue with Russia “but there can be no return to ‘business as usual’ … until Russia once again demonstrates respect for international law.”

He said NATO members would seek to strengthen logistical support for allies bordering Russia and urged members to go ahead with previous commitments to increase defense spending to at least 2 percent of GDP.

jbh/rc (AFP, AP)

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