British defence secretary Sir Michael Fallon, making the first trip across the Atlantic by a UK cabinet minister since Donald Trump won the election, told the incoming administration that Russia presented a real threat that only Nato could deter.
Trump on the campaign trail repeatedly spoke warmly about a need for increased dialogue with Russian president Vladimir Putin while questioning the basic tenets of the Nato alliance, in particular that an attack on one constitutes an attack on all.
Such comments created alarm among Nato members, particularly in the Baltic states, who, even though Nato members, fear Russia might seek to destabilise them.
Fallon urged the Trump administration not to retreat into isolationism, one of the populist threads during his campaign. “First, it is important that America remains an outward-looking nation,” Fallon told the conference.
The defence secretary’s speech aimed to balance establishing a rapport with Trump’s administration while sending a message that the UK regards Nato as the cornerstone of European defence and concerns over Russia.
He told the conference that Nato countries are in a “strategic competition” with Russia.
Fallon said: “Russia’s actions in Crimea and Ukraine have tested the alliance. You only have to visit Nato’s eastern flank to understand the acute sense of vulnerability that abounds. There’s no point pretending this is business as usual. Dialogue with Russia is useful. But deterrence is essential.
Saturday, 3 December 2016
The Guardian: UK defence secretary tells US only Nato can deter Russian threat