Russia might be testing NATO’s resolve with the same covert attacks it used in Crimea and eastern Ukraine, The United Kingdom Defense Secretary Michael Fallon said. Russian Vladimir Putin may infiltrate the NATO member countries in the Baltics, particularly Estonia, Lithuania or Latvia, with undercover forces, propaganda and cyber attack. It may arouse tensions in the same way it inflamed the Ukraine conflict in order to test NATO’s commitment in protecting its ally countries, Fallon warned.
Vladimir Putin is “Real and Present Danger”
Russian President Vladimir Putin posed “real and present danger” of destabilizing the Baltic states, Fallon said. NATO must be ready to battle hostility coming from Russia “whatever form it takes.” He said tensions between Russia and NATO were “warming up” as tanks and armors continue to pile up in eastern Ukraine.
“It’s a very real and present danger. He was testing NATO all last year, if you look at the number of flights and the maritime activity. He flew two Russian bombers down the English Channel two weeks ago. We had to scramble jets very quickly to see them off. It’s the first time since the height of the Cold War, it’s the first time that’s happened,” Mr Fallon told The Telegraph.
Fallon also highlighted that the notable increase in Russia’s military spending is “clearly worrying.” He said the country is modernizing its military forces and its nuclear forces.
“There are lots of worries. I’m worried about Putin. There’s no effective control of the border, I’m worried about his pressure on the Baltics, the way he is testing NATO, the submarines and aircraft,” Fallon said.
NATO Implements Readiness Action Plan
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said the alliance is implementing its Readiness Action Plan with aircraft patrolling the Baltic skies, with ships monitoring the Baltic Sea and land forces policing the ground. He said this during a joint press conference with Latvian president on Feb 18.
Stoltenberg also expressed concerned over the deteriorating situation in Debaltseve due to the refusal of the separatists to respect the cease-fire and allow access to the OSCE monitors.
Stoltenberg said Russian forces, artillery and air defense units as well as command and control elements are still active in Ukraine. He told press that Russia continues to support the separatists with forces, training and advanced weapons. He also noted the steady buildup of tanks and armored vehicles across the border from Russia to Ukraine.
“I urge Russia to end its support for the separatists. And withdraw its forces and military equipment from eastern Ukraine in accordance with the Minks agreement. The separatists should halt all attacks immediately,” Stoltenberg told press.