UK Defence Secretary Urges NATO To Boost Capabilities To Tackle Russia's 'Provocations'

UK Defence Secretary Urges NATO to Boost Capabilities to Tackle Russia's 'Provocations'

UK Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson, in a Monday speech, urged NATO nations to live up to the 2-percent GDP defense spending commitment to boost collective capabilities and tackle the alleged threat of "resurgent" Russia

MOSCOW (UrduPoint News / Sputnik - 11th February, 2019) UK Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson, in a Monday speech, urged NATO nations to live up to the 2-percent GDP defense spending commitment to boost collective capabilities and tackle the alleged threat of "resurgent" Russia.

Delivering a speech at the Royal United Services Institute, Williamson noted the "reviving" state-on-state competition as another challenge that had recently come to the fore along with international terrorism. Among the sources of concern, he mentioned "resurgent" Russia, which is "rebuilding its military arsenal and seeking to bring the independent countries of the former Soviet Union" into its orbit. He also mentioned China, which is developing modern military capabilities and commercial power.

"In NATO, we must stand firm against Russia's non-compliance with the INF [Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces] Treaty, if necessary being ready to deal with the threat that new Russian missile systems may pose. The alliance must develop its ability to handle the kind of provocations that Russia is throwing at us," Williamson said.

Dwelling on the UK-post Brexit strategy, he stressed that the country intended to boost its global presence and build on its alliances.

"NATO, 70 years on from its founding remains the bedrock of our nation's defense. In the past five years, the alliance has come a long way � it is far more focused and ready to deter and defend against Russian hostile acts. But more European nations need to be ready and capable of responding to step up to a 2 percent NATO target and not being distracted by the notion of an EU army," he went on.

According to Williamson, it is necessary to send a signal that Russia's actions would "come at a cost," so the alliance should "stand firm" in helping the nations outside NATO in their "day-to-day struggle with Russian attempts to undermine their very sovereignty.

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Williamson has repeatedly expressed concerns over Russia's alleged increasing military presence and accused it of various provocations, while Moscow has consistently refuted the allegations as being aimed at justifying the increased defense spending and distracting public from acute issues, such the Brexit deadlock.

The INF Treaty, which was signed by the United States and the Soviet Union in 1987 and banned all ground-launched missiles, conventional or nuclear, with ranges of 310 to 3,400 miles, has recently become another contentious point between the United States and its allies, including the United Kingdom, on one side, and Russia, on the other.

The United States is alleging that the range of Russia's 9M729 missile violated the treaty limits, but Moscow has denied the allegations, stressing that they were unsubstantiated. Russia, in turn, has complained that US defense systems in Europe were equipped with launchers capable of firing cruise missiles at ranges prohibited under the INF treaty.

Earlier in February, US State Secretary Mike Pompeo announced that the United States had suspended its obligations under the INF Treaty and triggered the six month withdrawal process unless Russia comes back into compliance with the pact. The following day, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that Moscow had suspended its participation in the treaty in response to the US actions.

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