THE UK Government should "take the lead" in ensuring September's Nato summit in Newport addresses threats from Russia, according to a report by a group of MPs.

The report by the House of Commons defence committee, published today (Thursday) says the Russian annexation of Crimea and the continuing violence in Ukraine "has been a stark reminder of Nato's responsibilities in Europe".

"There is no doubt that Eastern European nations feel that the threat is very real," says the report.

"The Nato summit in Newport in September must ensure that it addresses the threat from Russia and take the opportunity provided to reshape Nato.

"Our conclusion is that Nato is currently not well-prepared for a Russian threat against a Nato member state."

The report by the cross-party group, including one Welsh MP, focuses on two articles of the North Atlantic Treaty as well as the situation in Ukraine and the Baltic States, "rather than the more general debate about Russia and global security threats".

"We have chosen this focus because the Nato conference will be hosted by the UK in September; because this is of central concern to Eastern European Nato members; because the attack on Ukraine has raised the possibility - however unlikely - of an attack, conventional or unconventional, on a Nato member state in the Baltics, potentially requiring an Article 5 response."

Article 5 of the Washington Treaty states that an attack on one state is an attack on all.

"It concludes that Nato is poorly prepared for either scenario and suggests urgent steps that would need to be taken to meet these challenges."

The MPs said they have concerns about Nato's "deficiencies in its ability to respond to a conventional attack" including shortcomings in Nato's ability to foresee and give adequate warning of an attack; and questions about the public's readiness to honour the Article 5 commitment of retaliation.

"We are also concerned that events in Ukraine seem to have taken the UK Government by surprise," says the report.

"The Nato alliance has not considered Russia as an adversary or a potential territorial threat to its member states for 20 years. It is now forced to do so as a result of Russia's recent actions.

"Events in Ukraine this year...are a wake-up call for Nato. They have revealed alarming deficiencies in the state of Nato preparedness."

The group recommended that September's summit should set plans to ensure "dramatic" improvements to the existing Nato rapid reaction force; the pre-positioning of equipment in the Baltic States; a continuous if not technically permanent presence of Nato troops on training and exercise in the Baltic; the reestablishment of large-scale military exercises including representatives from all Nato member states; and consideration of the reestablishment of a Nato standing reserve force along the lines of the Allied Command Europe Mobile Force-Land.

It also calls on the government to boost the number of defences attaches and ensure adequate representation in Poland.

The Argus has contacted the Ministry of Defence for a comment.