NATO is not prepared for the threat of a Russian attack on one of its members, British lawmakers said Thursday, calling for more equipment and troops to be positioned in the Baltic States.
Parliament's Defense Select Committee said events in Crimea and eastern Ukraine had revealed "alarming deficiencies" in NATO's preparedness and should be a "wake-up call."
The military alliance has stepped up exercises in eastern Europe since Russia annexed Ukraine's Crimea Peninsula in March. Ukraine is not a member of NATO.
Ukraine's neighbor and NATO-member Poland has said it wants the alliance to permanently station troops in the region as a guarantee against Russian intervention. But most NATO members are reluctant because of the cost and the risk of further antagonizing the Kremlin.
"NATO has been too complacent about the threat from Russia, and it is not well-prepared," said Rory Stewart, chairman of the committee, made up of lawmakers from the ruling Conservatives and Liberal Democrats as well as from the opposition Labour Party.
"The instability in Russia, [Russian President Vladimir] Putin's world view and the failure of the West to respond actively in Ukraine means that we now have to address urgently the possibility, however small, of Russia repeating such tactics elsewhere. In particular, the NATO member states in the Baltic are vulnerable," he said.
Britain this week said it would send 1,350 military personnel and more than 350 vehicles to Poland for a NATO exercise in October, aimed at reassuring its allies in eastern Europe.