NATO will respond to enhanced Russian maritime capabilities by shoring up its own sea-based defenses, Norwegian Defense Minister Ine Erikson Soreide said at an Atlantic Council conference on the future of NATO.
“One area that needs more attention is the increasing challenges of the maritime domain… NATO must not yield on the maritime flanks, ” Soreide said on Thursday.
On Wednesday, Soreide met with US Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter to discuss “generating true allied maritime capabilities.”
That challenge, Soreide said, will be “the main issue” going into the July 2016 NATO Warsaw Summit.
Since announcing its revised defense posture in late 2014, Russia has put an increased emphasis on maritime capabilities successfully concluding military exercises in the Arctic, the Baltic Sea, the Black Sea and in the Mediterranean over the past year.
Much of the emphasis has gone into the development and deployment of surface and subsurface platforms with high precision, long range strike capabilities.
As a result of improved Russian capabilities, Soreide stated that NATO “could potentially face a resurrected threat to the sea lines of communication across the Atlantic,” representing a challenge that “concerns all of Europe and the United States.”
In recent year’s NATO’s ability to project power on the sea has declined as a result of decreased defense spending among member states.
As of June, NATO reported a 1.5 percent decline in the alliance’s overall defense spending for 2015, slightly less than the 2014 decline of nearly 4 percent.