BRITISH defence secretary Philip Hammond said the Nato summit is a great opportunity for Newport to show what it has to offer when he spoke at the meeting of the military alliance’s defence ministers in Brussels today.

Mr Hammond told Welsh journalists including the South Wales Argus that the summit will be crucial to how the military alliance of 28 countries responds to Russia’s behaviour over the Ukraine.

Defence ministers are discussing the long-term response of Russia’s actions at their meeting at Nato HQ in Brussels on Tuesday and Wednesday - discussions set to culminate at Newport's Celtic Manor Resort on September 4-5.

Mr Hammond, who spoke as he arrived at the Brussels meeting, said the event was a “fantastic opportunity for Wales to showcase itself to an international audience.”

He said: “I’m prepared to bet that the vast majority of heads of government who come to the summit won’t have visited Newport before. So it’s a great opportunity for Newport to show off what it has to offer.”

Responding to a question from the Argus about the importance of the summit, Mr Hammond said: “It’s going to be crucial because NATO clearly has to work out amongst itself how it responds to the renewed challenge from Russia’s behaviour over the Ukraine, while not losing sight of its wider agenda.

“The purpose of NATO is to keep our citizens safe through collective defence. We have to be able to respond to challenges whether they come from the east or whether they come from unstable rouge states around the world; whether they come from international terrorism.

“With limited resources we’ve got to work out how best to deliver that reassurance. That will be one of the major features of the summit in Wales.”

Earlier Nato secretary general Anders Fogh Rasmussen told journalists: “We are less than a hundred days from the Wales summit. At the summit, we will strengthen our collective defence, improve our ability to manage crises, deepen our partnerships, and demonstrate the strength of the bond between North America and Europe.”

He said that Europe was facing a “new security landscape because of Russia’s illegal aggression against Ukraine.”

“We need to make Nato fitter, faster and more flexible,” he said.

The Ukraine crisis escalated earlier this year when unmarked armed forces began to be seen in the Crimea region of the country. The region was taken over by Russia following a referendum.