Speaker Ryan in London: 'NATO is essential'

Speaker Ryan in London: 'NATO is essential'
© Greg Nash

Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanSpending deal talks down to toughest issues, lawmakers say Schiff: I thought more Republicans would speak out against Trump Dem leaders pull back from hard-line immigration demand MORE (R-Wis.) praised the enduring alliance between the United States and United Kingdom Wednesday while calling on Britain to help combat “Russian aggression” through NATO, which he deemed “essential.”

“So let’s be clear: The actions of Russia are not the actions of a friend,” Ryan said at the U.K. think tank Policy Exchange in London.

“We cannot allow a provocateur in Moscow to threaten our allies or interests. This is a direct affront to the post-Cold War global order. And by ‘we,’ I do not just mean the US and Britain. To truly combat Russian aggression, we need a strong NATO alliance — and we need that now more than ever,” he continued. 

Ryan said his delegation recently visited other NATO states and stressed that the security organization is vital to their international security interests. 

“Please let there be no ambiguity here: NATO is essential. It has been and remains critical to the safety and security of the United States, Great Britain, and the world,” Ryan said. 

Ryan made the comments a week after President Trump drastically shifted his stance on NATO, saying he no longer thinks the organization is obsolete.

As Trump has done, Ryan urged NATO members to increase their defense funding. 

"Member states should follow the lead of the U.S., U.K., Poland, Estonia, and Greece and contribute 2 percent of their GDP to defense spending. And we should enhance our lines of communication to ensure NATO countries receive the most timely, actionable information possible."

In the 28-member group, the U.S. is one of just five countries spending at least 2 percent of GDP on defense. 

Ryan praised Trump’s decision to order a missile strike on a Syrian air base where, officials say, President Bashar Assad organized a chemical attack that killed scores of civilians.

“The strikes ordered by President Trump were appropriate and just. They demonstrate our resolve and refusal to stand on the sidelines as Assad slaughters his people — and their children — with the cruelest weapons known to man. You understand, as we do, that preventing the use of chemical weapons is a vital national security interest.

"So we must continue to work together — the United States, Great Britain, and all of our allies — to finally end this nightmare,” Ryan said.

Ryan said Assad’s backers such as Iran and Russia must also be held accountable.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg met with Trump during a press conference last week to discuss the military alliance.