David Cameron calls on Nato to rethink Russia relationship

Vladimir Putin and David Cameron in June 2014 Image copyright AP
Image caption David Cameron and Vladimir Putin held face-to-face talks in June

Nato needs to rethink its long-term relationship with Russia, which views the alliance as "an adversary", Prime Minister David Cameron has warned.

He said there has to be a "robust presence" in eastern Europe because of Russia's "illegal" actions in Ukraine.

In a letter to other Nato leaders ahead of a UK summit, he said Russia had to be sent a message that "neither Nato nor its members will be intimidated".

Plans suggested by Mr Cameron include a new schedule of military exercises.

'Pivotal moment'

Mr Cameron also said equipment and supplies should be pre-positioned in key locations and called for an enhanced Nato Response Force.

He has written to his counterparts, and alliance secretary general Anders Fogh Rasmussen, six weeks before they are due to meet near Newport, south Wales.

The letter comes days after the Commons Defence Committee warned that Nato is currently poorly prepared for a Russian attack on a member state.

While the risk of a conventional assault remains low, MPs issued a warning over methods such as cyber-attacks and the use of irregular militias.

The Nato summit is the first to be held in the UK since 1990, when Margaret Thatcher hosted the alliance in London as the Cold War was ending.

The prime minister noted that: "In 2014, the world is more unpredictable than ever and we meet at another pivotal moment in the history of the alliance."

'Robust presence'

He said this included Russia having "ripped up the rulebook with its illegal annexation of Crimea and aggressive destabilisation of Ukraine" as well as the crisis in the Middle East.

Mr Cameron wrote: "We must... review our long-term relationship with Russia.

"While Nato has only ever sought to be a partner to Russia, not a threat, it is clear that Russia views Nato as an adversary.

"We must accept that the co-operation of recent years is not currently possible because of Russia's own illegal actions in Nato's neighbourhood and revisit the principles that guide our relationship with Russia."

He called for an action plan to allow Nato to respond to threats to any member of the alliance "including when we have little warning".

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Russia has "ripped up the rule book", Mr Cameron said

He added: "All Nato allies have already contributed to the alliance's response to this crisis and we should agree how we can sustain a robust presence in eastern Europe, consistent with the Nato Russia Founding Act, to make clear to Russia that neither Nato nor its members will be intimidated."

Mr Rasmussen and Mr Cameron are due to visit Nato's Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe on Monday.

They will meet Supreme Allied Commander Europe, US General Philip Breedlove, to discuss plans to strengthen Nato's ability to respond swiftly to threat.

'Rock-solid alliance'

In the letter, Mr Cameron also urged Nato members to "make the strongest possible commitment to increase their defence spending", stressing that such investment signals "that Nato means business".

He wants the other member states to match the UK in meeting the target of spending 2% of its GDP on defence.

Mr Cameron also proposed a new North Atlantic Armed Forces Charter to demonstrate commitment to the welfare and support of troops, describing this as a "personal priority".

And he wants the summit, to which 33 partner countries are invited, to discuss how they can support the Afghan government following the withdrawal of international troops.

He concluded the letter saying that: "The Wales summit should prove that Nato is a rock-solid alliance with strong partnerships around the world that fosters global peace and stability, creating a secure environment for economies to grow."

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