US ambassador to NATO: Russia’s aggression in Ukraine completely changed rules of the game

Douglas Lute
AFP/Scanpix

Lute, who arrived in Latvia on invitation from Latvian Ambassador to NATO Maris Riekstins to observe the Saber Strike military exercise, pointed out that US troops have been on the ground in Latvia for over a year now, and that this is a direct response to Russia’s aggression in Ukraine.

“We wish for our eastern partners, including Latvia, understand that Article 5 of the NATO Treaty means exactly what is stated – an attack on one alliance member is an attack on the whole alliance. The presence of US troops in Latvia shows that Article 5 works,” Lute said.

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Speaking about future challenges to the alliance, Lute said that NATO was currently facing various challenges, including from the Islamic State and the so-called failed states like Libya.

“These are serious challenges which we discuss on a regular basis,” said Lute.

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Meanwhile speaking about Russia, the US ambassador pointed out that numerous flights of military aircraft in the Baltics, with their transponders turned off, were causing danger not only to civil aviation, but to the region as a whole.

“It is clear Russia’s actions have changed the game completely, but we are still attempting to maintain military and diplomatic contacts,” he said.

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Lute has served as US ambassador to NATO since 2013 and is a retired lieutenant-general after 35 years of service in the US army.

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