That was NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen speaking Tuesday as NATO foreign ministers moved to beef up the defenses of front-line alliance members feeling menaced by a more assertive Russia, with Secretary of State John Kerry proclaiming the U.S. commitment to their security is "unwavering." The ministers from NATO's 28 member nations also ordered suspension of all "practical civilian and military cooperation" with Vladimir Putin's Russia, though they made sure a line of communication with the Kremlin remains open at the ambassadorial level.
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization, keystone of U.S. and European security since the end of World War II, is facing its most acute geopolitical crisis in years: the fallout from Moscow's unilateral annexation of Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula, which the Obama administration and its allies condemn as a brazen, illegal land grab.
Mocking his critics, President Barack Obama boasted Tuesday that 7.1 million people have signed up for his health care law, an unexpected comeback after a disastrous rollout sent his poll numbers plummeting and stirred fears among Democrats facing re-election this fall. Despite lingering problems with the website, a late wave of enrollments pushed sign-ups higher than critics and even the White House had believed possible. Still, the administration hasn't determined how many of those people have closed the deal by paying their first month's premiums. The law also expanded coverage for low-income people through Medicaid, but only about half of the states have agreed to implement that option.
President Mahmoud Abbas says the Palestinians are "immediately" resuming their bid to win further U.N. recognition and has signed applications for 15 U.N. agencies and conventions. Abbas' surprise move late Tuesday could derail U.S.-brokered peace talks with Israel. The talks resumed in late July, and Abbas said at the time he would suspend attempts to join U.N. agencies and treaties for nine months. Abbas said Tuesday "we will apply to 15 agencies and conventions immediately" because Israel failed to keep its word.
An official close to the negotiations said Tuesday that U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is closer to a deal that would rescue the faltering Mideast peace talks, pushing a formula that would include the release of convicted U.S. spy Jonathan Pollard and freedom for hundreds of Palestinians held by Israel.