The heads of states of nine Eastern NATO members has called on the defence alliance to strengthen its presence on its Eastern flank during a virtual summit with US President Joe Biden and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.
The call comes amid renewed fears of Russia’s aggressive behaviour at the alliance’s doorstep, said Polish President Andrzej Duda and his Romanian counterpart, Klaus Iohannis, who co-hosted the summit.
The Eastern threat was the common denominator for all speeches by heads of state on Monday, Duda said, pointing to the rising offensive potential of forces in the Kaliningrad region bordering Poland and Lithuania, and the recent concentration of Russian troops on the border with Ukraine, among others.
Iohannis lamented Russia’s destabilizing actions, especially in the Black Sea, calling for NATO’s vigilance.
Duda and Iohannis also underlined the importance of close cooperation with NATO’s eastern partners and Western Balkan countries, and underlined the need to keep an open door for prospective members.
They also highlighted the involvement of Biden and Stoltenberg in the summit, saying that it proves the vitality of the trans-Atlantic bond and the importance of the region for NATO as a whole.
Apart from Poland and Romania, the Bucharest-9 format brings together the Baltic states, as well as Slovakia, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Bulgaria.