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Obama: NATO Must Make 'Concrete' Commitments To Face Challenges

U.S. President Barack Obama
U.S. President Barack Obama

U.S. President Barack Obama says that NATO must summon the political will and make commitments to meet challenges from Islamic State (IS) extremists, Russia, Britain's "Brexit" vote to leave the European Union, and conflicts that have prompted millions of people to seek refuge in Europe.

In a commentary published on the Financial Times website on July 8 just hours before the start of a two-day NATO summit in Warsaw that will be the last one he attends as president, Obama said this "may be the most important moment for our transatlantic alliance since the end of the Cold War."

NATO will send a signal of deterrence to a pugnacious Russia and demonstrate unity as the West also grapples with deadly attacks by IS militants, an influx of migrants into Europe, the divisive "Brexit" vote, and a resurgent Taliban in Afghanistan.

Much of the focus will be on Russia, which angered the West and upset the post-World War II order in 2014 by seizing the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine and backing separatists whose war with Kyiv's forces has killed more than 9,300 people in the eastern Donbas region.

"Russia's aggression against Ukraine threatens our vision of a Europe that is whole, free, and at peace," wrote Obama, who also highlighted IS attacks that have "slaughtered innocents in NATO countries, from Orlando to Paris to Brussels to Istanbul," the British vote, and conflicts "from Africa to Syria to Afghanistan" that have sent waves of migrants seeking refuge in Europe.

With reporting by the Financial Times and Reuters