Defence Secretary Michael Fallon: "Nato is getting ready" for Russian aggression in Baltics

In light of Russia's seizure of Crimea and fighting in Ukraine, the Defence Secretary warns that the Baltics may be next.

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The Defence Secretary has warned that the Baltics could be next to face Russian aggression.

Following the Russian President Vladimir Putin's seizure of the Crimea, and the intense fighting in Ukraine, Michael Fallon is concerned about Russia's neighbours in the Baltics, saying there is a "real and present danger" in Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia.

The Baltic states are members of Nato, and so any combative moves by Putin in that part of Europe would be a significant development in the conflict. Indeed, Fallon called for Nato states to be prepared for aggression from Russia "in whatever form it takes", and added that "Nato is getting ready" for such circumstances:

I'm worried about Putin. I'm worried about his pressure on the Baltics, the way he is testing Nato.

As the BBC reports, one principle of Nato is that an "attack against one or several members is considered as an attack against all".

The UK government has been accused of taking a back seat role in the Ukraine crisis so far, its most significant intervention being heavy economic sanctions against Russia. Fallon's comments suggest not only Britain's view that the conflict in that part of the world is far from over, but also that it could reconsider its decision not to have a military role or provide "lethal assistance" to Ukraine.

And it's not just Fallon. Labour's shadow foreign secretary, Douglas Alexander, is also concerned about Putin's approach to the Baltics:

President Putin clearly has a strategy for the Baltic states – that emphasises dependence on natural gas and the manipulation of Russian minorities – which needs to be recognised and responded by both the EU and Nato . . . Following recent developments in eastern Ukraine, the international community must be ready to increase the pressure on the Kremlin by extending economic sanctions if President Putin refuses to change course.

Anoosh Chakelian is the New Statesman’s Britain editor.

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