Global Surge: Leaders Announce Major Initiatives Against Russia And Islamic State

Western leaders announced two major initiatives at the NATO summit in Wales on Friday, in an effort to show decisive action in the face of growing global threats.

NATO member states voted on Friday to form a "rapid response force" aimed at countering Russian aggression, while reassuring the organization's eastern member states that they would be protected in case of encroachment onto their territory. Countries such as Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia fear that Moscow may target them next.

NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen said on Friday that the creation of the force sends a clear message to any potential aggressor. "Should you even think of attacking one ally, you will be facing the whole alliance," Rasmussen said, according to the Associated Press.

The new force's command headquarters will be set up in Eastern Europe and member states will contribute forces on a rotational basis. Troops are expected to be able to mobilize and deploy quickly in the face of a threat.

Also on Friday, the United States announced in Wales that it was spearheading a "core coalition" to battle the militants of the Islamic State group, also known as ISIS. Since launching a lightning offensive in Iraq last June, IS has captured swathes of land in Iraq in addition to territory in Syria, and its fighters have been accused of brutal crimes and human rights offenses.

The core group consists of 10 nations, including France, Germany, and Britain. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry explained that the states were hoping to present a joint strategy for combating the militant group at the UN General Assembly session in New York later this month. Kerry made clear that the countries would not be sending troops to Iraq or Syria. "Obviously I think that's a red line for everybody here: no boots on the ground," Kerry said, according to Reuters.

The U.S. launched dozens of strikes against the Islamic State in Iraq in recent weeks, and U.S. officials had made clear before the start of the NATO summit that they wanted to form an international coalition with a long-term strategy to combat the group.

Martin Lidegaard, foreign minister of Denmark, one of the members of the core group, explained on Friday that the countries aim to fight the extremist group on several fronts. "It is not only about a military effort, it is also about stopping the financial contributions to ISIS, to coordinate intelligence, it is about stopping foreign fighters, young people from our own societies," Lidegaard said, according to the AP.



Fighting in Ukraine