President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron slammed the militant group the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and Russia for their incursions in the Middle East and Ukraine, respectively, in an op-ed published Thursday by The Times of London.
“Countries like Britain and America will not be cowed by barbaric killers. We will be more forthright in the defence of our values, not least because a world of greater freedom is a fundamental part of how we keep our people safe,” the two world leaders wrote ahead of a North Atlantic Treaty Organization Summit (NATO). Obama and Cameron called for a stronger NATO alliance in the article.
Russia and ISIS pose distinct problems for the west. ISIS has attracted both American and British fighters, and the group has claimed responsibility for the beheading of two American journalists. The U.S. has launched airstrikes against the Islamic militant group in Iraq, and the Obama administration is weighing action against ISIS in Syria, where the group is based.
“The utterly despicable murders of two American journalists by Isil [Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant] are but the latest evidence of a brutal and poisonous extremism that murders indiscriminately and risks exporting terrorism abroad,” Obama and Cameron wrote.
Russia has taken over large swaths of Ukraine, including annexing the Crimean region of the country. Russian-backed separatists have been accused of downing a Malaysian Airlines passenger plane over eastern Ukraine, killing more than 200 people on board.
Both Obama and Cameron have struggled to censure Russian President Vladimir Putin for his incursions in Ukraine, as Russian forces move further into the country, despite increased sanctions from America and the European Union.
“With Russia trying to force a sovereign state to abandon its right to democracy at the barrel of a gun, we should support Ukraine’s right to determine its own democratic future and continue our efforts to enhance Ukrainian capabilities. We must use our military to ensure a persistent presence in eastern Europe, making clear to Russia that we will always uphold our Article 5 commitments to collective self-defence,” Obama and Cameron wrote..
The pair went on to call for a “multinational rapid response force, composed of land, air, maritime and special forces, that could deploy anywhere in the world at very short notice” and a unified opposition to both Russia and ISIS.
The op-ed came a day after Obama made his strongest comments against ISIS yet, when the president promised to “degrade and destroy” the group and hinted that a ground and air military operation was possible.