UK Asks NATO to Stand Up to Russia

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An armed pro-Russian separatist (foreground) guards a crash site of the Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 near the village of Hrabove (Grabovo), Donetsk region July 24, 2014. REUTERS/Maxim Zmeyev (UKRAINE - Tags: TRANSPORT DISASTER) REUTERS

A committee of UK lawmakers has warned that the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) is not well prepared to face the new threat posed by Russia and many deficiencies are dogging its command structures.

It seems the Ukraine crisis has exacerbated concerns among NATO allies on the preparedness of the military alliance to safeguard member states in the event of an attack.

The Commons Defence Committee in the UK observed that the Ukraine conflict has exposed serious deficiencies in NATO's preparedness and called for radical reforms to plug the loopholes. Though the MPs do not see a conventional assault, overt methods such as cyber-attacks and irregular militias can be significant.

Security for Baltic states

The UK Defence committee called for increased presence of NATO troops and military equipment in vulnerable Baltic states such as Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. It also wanted NATO to amend its Article 5 and add unconventional threats such as irregular militia and cyber-attacks as triggers to undertake its missions to defend member states when they come under an attack.

In a report, the panel made the observation that NATO looks ill-prepared to face the Russian threat against NATO member states.

Rory Stewart, chairman of the committee, said the risk of a Russian attack on NATO member state may be small but it is significant. Russia has been changing its tactics. There are cyber-attacks, information warfare, irregular separatist groups, armed civilians and forces without insignia.  Russia has tried all these in Ukraine to destabilise a NATO partner and annex part of its territory to pulverise the ability to respond.

The report wanted NATO to factor in Russia as a territorial threat on the basis of the recent events. The events in Ukraine, cyber attack on Estonia and invasion of Georgia in 2008 are wake-up calls for NATO. They also revealed glaring deficiencies in the NATO's preparedness.

NATO clarifies

NATO spokeswoman Oana Lungescu said all these points were touched upon by the NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen in recent times. She said the Wales NATO Summit in September will be an occasion to discuss them threadbare. To reinforce collective defence for the eastern allies, NATO has already augmented the air, sea and land force capabilities.

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