At the NATO Parliamentary Assembly Spring Session in Tirana, Albania, it’s safe to say that the threat of Russia weighs heavier on everyone’s minds in contrast to ISIS, who is reportedly already “losing ground” in both Iraq and Syria. In the midst of all this, NATO Parliamentary Assembly Chairman and US Congressman Michael Turner insists that “Russia’s renewed aggressiveness comes at a price.”
NATO aims to safeguard both the freedom and security of its 28 Allied nations. As such, an attack against one member nation will be viewed as an attack against the alliance. At the plenary session, NATO Deputy Secretary General Alexander Vershbow also clarified, “NATO does not seek confrontation but we will defend each and every Ally against any attack.”
Today, NATO is adamant that every member should move towards the target of spending two percent of its GDP on defense in the next ten years, ideally no later than 2020. At the same time, 20 percent of each nation’s defense budgets should to go into the acquisition of new equipment. So far, only five of all its member states have been able to meet the two percent target.
As for Russia, Turner says there is a need for a strategy that would “ensure that Russia’s renewed aggressiveness comes at a price and that further aggression is deterred.” In the Baltic Sea, there is a need to strengthen ties with both Sweden and Finland in order to boost security in an area where Russian military presence has become increasingly active.
Earlier this month, Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work had also said that the Russians have become “extremely aggressive” in the Baltic Sea and Black Sea. This remark came following the incident between the USS Donald Cook and Russian aircraft that made “multiple, aggressive low-altitude flight maneuvers” on the Navy destroyer last month. Following the incident, Work said, “The United Sates is going to ensure Russia understands the area is in international waters and the U.S. will continue to fly, sail and operate anywhere international law allows.”
At the NATO assembly, lawmakers also said that there is a need to boost the alliance’s collective defenses in order to show Russia that any aggression will be met with “rapid response” to help reassure especially the allies who already feel under threat.
Poland and Romania have recently become the target of Russian ire due to two Aegis Ashore ballistic missile defense sites now situated in the two countries. Work has been quick to clarify that such defense capabilities were not directed at Russia. Rather, they serve to protect the NATO alliance against any ballistic missile attack outside the Euro-Atlantic region.
Meanwhile, Vershbow also stressed that there is no such thing as “business as usual with Russia” until it honors the Minsk agreement and it “demonstrates respect for international law and the norms of international behaviour” once again.