Closing Ranks

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The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) on Tuesday pledged to boost arms production by signing a nearly $700 million surface-to-air missile contract, against the backdrop of Russia’s war in Ukraine, Newsweek reported.

Speaking at a US Chamber of Commerce event as part of a summit held in Washington, DC, NATO secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg announced the deal as he acknowledged discrepancies in the alliance’s arms production against Moscow’s mounting threats of direct confrontation.

The war “demonstrated serious gaps in our interoperability,” Stoltenberg said, adding that “there is no way to provide strong defense without a strong defense industry.”

The contract will enable NATO countries to increase production of the FIM-92 Stinger, a portable surface-to-air missile system made by US defense firm Raytheon. It can be used by ground troops or mounted onto vehicles, offering short-range defense against enemy aircraft.

The US, which provided Ukraine with Stinger systems when Russia launched its full-scale invasion in February 2022, and other partners will deliver another air defense package to Kyiv, President Joe Biden said on Tuesday.

Support for Ukraine is a core topic at the NATO summit, and the recent announcement has angered the Kremlin, who again blamed the alliance, which turns 75 this year, for the war.

As Denmark and the Netherlands are set to send F-16 fighter jets to Ukraine this summer and fall, Russian lawmaker Andrei Kartapolov warned that Moscow could attack NATO airfields hosting jets to be used against Russia.

Transatlantic allies are scrambling to reach deals ahead of the US presidential election in November. A win by former President and Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump could jeopardize US support for NATO partners, the Associated Press wrote.

Earlier this year, Trump said he would allow Russia to “do whatever the hell they want” with NATO countries that failed to meet defense budget requirements.

Despite the ambitions displayed by allies in Washington this week, leaders recognized hindrances, namely bureaucratic, in the West, the Wall Street Journal reported.

“Putin can order a sausage factory turned into an arms plant but democracies have planning processes, which can take years,” said Estonian Defense Minister Hanno Pevkur.

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