Rasmussen: Russian Actions are a “Wake Up Call”

NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen blasted “Russia’s military aggression” in Crimea, during a speech at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C., Wednesday. Rasmussen said such actions are a violation of Ukraine’s territory and sovereignty and labeled the recent vote for union with Russia as a “referendum held at gunpoint.” Russia’s actions are a “wake up call” for NATO and the European-North American alliance. The military takeover marks the “gravest threat to European stability since the end of the Cold War,” as it poses implications for the solvency of the NATO alliance, added Rasmussen. “Developments in Ukraine are a stark reminder that security in Europe cannot be taken for granted,” he said, noting that ministers will assess the “strategic impacts” of Russia’s aggression and its implication for military investments at NATO’s upcoming summit. As an alliance, NATO has suspended all NATO-Russian cooperation activities until further review, including a planned joint maritime escort mission for Syrian chemical weapons in the Mediterranean, as a consequence of these actions. NATO also has taken steps to strengthen readiness, he added, including more assets for air policing in the Baltic states, and increased surveillance flights staged from Romania and Poland. Rasmussen made several public appearances in Washington Tuesday and Wednesday, in between meetings with Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, Secretary of State John Kerry and National Security Adviser Susan Rice. (Brookings transcript.)