NATO should step up pressure on Russia to use its influence on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad as well as to give a more resolute response to Moscow's "testing" of the Alliance's flank in the Baltics, UK Defence Secretary Michael Fallon has said in an interview to The Wall Street Journal published on Wednesday.
UK Defence Secretary Michael Fallon
© Reuters/Scanpix

NATO defence ministers are holding a meeting in Brussels on Thursday to discuss, among other things, Russia's involvement in the Syrian conflict and recent violations of the airspace of Turkey, a NATO member.

Moscow has conducted airstrikes against targets in Syria, saying the goal was to fight Islamic States. However, Western observers say Moscow's intentions are to lend support to Assad in his fight against both the terrorist organization and moderate rebels supported by the West.

“We will be asking NATO members to increase the pressure on Russia to use its influence to get the Assad regime to stop the bombing of its civilians,” Fallon is quoted by American business newspaper.

At the NATO meeting, the British defence secretary will announce that the UK will deploy company-size units, of about 100 troops, on a regular basis to the Baltic states to provide reassurance and training in support of a US-German initiative. Britain will also deploy another 25 military personnel to Ukraine to increase training to that country’s military, he said.

“We need to respond to the way in which Russia has been testing the eastern flank of NATO by more persistent deployment of troops and assets along the eastern flank,” Fallon said.

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