NATO head Jens Stoltenberg said Thursday the alliance must counter a Russian military build-up in the Baltic, the Black Sea and the eastern Mediterranean which could give Moscow control of key areas.
The Russian enclave of Kaliningrad sits west and on the blind-side of the Baltic states, who have been badly unnerved by Russia's intervention in Ukraine, while Moscow has sharply increased its military presence in Syria with aircraft and ships deployed to bolster long-time ally President Bashar al-Assad.
Stoltenberg warned that through such moves, Russia is acquiring the ability and presence to exercise control over strategic points and NATO must ensure it can carry out its own missions in such a changed environment.
"This is a military buildup which provides the Russians with what many experts call Area Access/Area Denial (A2/AD) capabilities," he told reporters at the Portuguese naval base of Troia south of Lisbon.
"We have to be sure we are able to overcome these capabilities so we can reinforce and deploy forces if needed," he said, after watching troops take part in the Trident Juncture exercise, NATO's biggest in more than a decade.
"The question on our agenda now is how to overcome, how to deal with the increased A2/AD capabilities of Russia in the Baltic, the Black Sea and now in the Mediterranean," he said, adding that the alliance should "reinforce our forces all the time".
Stoltenberg made his remarks when he was asked about what more NATO should do to reassure eastern member states who fear for their future in the face of a more assertive Russia.