News that four Russian cruise missiles, fired at Syria, have landed in Iran comes just hours after Nato secretary-general Jens Stolenberg issued an assurance to member states they will defended following the, “escalation of Russian military activities” in Syria.
Nato, the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, the political and military alliance of 28 member states including the US, UK and most European nations including Turkey, had restated previous assurances after Turkey complained Russian jets had violated its airspace, with reports on Monday that an unidentified jet had locked its radar onto eight Turkish jets.
Under Article 5 of the Washington Treaty, an attack on one Nato member state is deemed to be an attack on all, under the principle of collective defence.
Mr Stoltenberg announced an increase in the Nato Response Force to 40,000 saying, “All of this sends a clear message to all Nato citizens. Nato will defend you, Nato is on the ground, Nato is ready.”
While Iran is not a member of Nato, this incident is likely to cause further concern amongst member states already worried about Moscow’s involvement.
Nato has been critical of Moscow’s position in Syria saying it was “unhelpful”. Moscow, one of Assad’s most important international supporters, has previously been urged to stop backing the Syrian President who has been accused of war crimes against Syrians, including the use of chemical weapons and barrel bombs in an attempt to defeat rebels against the al-Assad regime.
There are concerns over who Russia is targeting in Syria. Along with IS targets, they have said they will be attacking all terrorist groups, which many fear means attacks on Assad opponents.
As well as worries over their activities in Syria, and previously in the Ukraine, there is also increasing concerns amongst Nato members bordering Russia at Putin’s escalating military muscle flexing.