“We are implementing the biggest reinforcement...since the end of the Cold War,” NATO’s secretary general ~Jens Stoltenberg
Confronted with its biggest military challenge since the end of the Cold War, a weakened NATO took steps Thursday to shore up its flanks, both in the Middle East and Europe, as Russia continued to test the credibility of the alliance’s bedrock principle of collective defense.
Debris from what activists in Syria said was an attack
by the Russian Air Force on Wednesday in the country-
side of Idlib Province. Credit Khalil Ashawi/Reuters
Western officials have been alarmed by the speed and scale of Moscow’s intervention in Syria. Russia’s warplanes have violated Turkish airspace — deliberately so, NATO officials have said — and its warships in the Caspian Sea have fired cruise missiles at targets in Syria — though several seemed to have fallen short of their mark, landing somewhere in Iran, a senior American defense official said on Thursday.
From left, Defense Secretary Michael Fallon of Britain,
Sec of Defense Ashton B. Carter and NATO Secretary
General Jens Stoltenberg in Brussels on Thursday.
Credit Olivier Hoslet/European Pressphoto Agency
Not wanting to inflame the situation, but also wary of appearing too passive, Western officials have responded cautiously, taking a number of limited steps while raising the rhetorical heat on Moscow.
On Thursday they said they had stepped up military exercises and deployed a small number of logistics personnel in Eastern and Central Europe. Britain announced that it would send soldiers to the Baltic countries, Poland and Ukraine after the show of force by Russia’s president, Vladimir V. Putin. Germany condemned Russia’s operations in Syria in unusually pointed terms.
“We are implementing the biggest reinforcement of our collective defense since the end of the Cold War,” NATO’s secretary general, Jens Stoltenberg, said before a meeting of defense ministers here on Thursday. After the meeting, he said, “All of this sends a message to NATO citizens: NATO will defend you, NATO is on the ground, NATO is ready.”Read the rest of the story HERE.
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