NATO strengthens eastern flank after Russia’s attack on Ukraine

NATO on Thursday decided to bolster its eastern flank by setting up four new combat units in Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary and Slovakia amid Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine.

NATO leaders including Polands President Andrzej Duda (top row, third from left), on Thursday decided to bolster the alliances eastern flank by setting up four new combat units in Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary and Slovakia amid Russias ongoing invasion of Ukraine.

NATO leaders including Poland’s President Andrzej Duda (top row, third from left), on Thursday decided to bolster the alliance’s eastern flank by setting up four new combat units in Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary and Slovakia amid Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine.PAP/Radek Pietruszka

The Western military alliance made the decision at an emergency summit in Brussels, Belgium, news agencies reported.

After the meeting, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said: “We agreed to strengthen our deterrence and defence for the longer-term. We also agreed to give further support to Ukraine and to continue to impose costs on Russia.”

Troops added to eastern flank

Stoltenberg noted that the alliance had previously set up four multinational battlegroups, in Poland and the Baltic states, and so now there will be eight of them on the eastern flank, spread between the Baltic and the Black seas, he told reporters.

Among Western leaders taking part in the closed-door session in Brussels were Poland’s President Andrzej Duda and US President Joe Biden.

In a statement issued after the summit, NATO leaders said: “Our measures remain preventive, proportionate, and non-escalatory.”

They added: “We will now accelerate NATO’s transformation for a more dangerous strategic reality, including through the adoption of the next Strategic Concept in Madrid.”

Biden later told reporters that allies would work on strengthening NATO’s defensive capability ahead of their Madrid summit in June, Poland’s PAP news agency reported.

Support for Ukraine

The statement said that NATO’s continued support to Ukraine would include helping protect it against potential chemical, biological or nuclear attacks, the Reuters news agency reported. 

However, Stoltenberg told reporters the alliance had ruled out sending troops or planes to Ukraine, or defending its skies, according to Reuters.

NATO leaders stated: “Russia’s unprovoked war against Ukraine represents a fundamental challenge to the values and norms that have brought security and prosperity to all on the European continent.” 

They stressed that Vladimir Putin’s „choice to attack Ukraine is a strategic mistake, with grave consequences also for Russia and the Russian people.”

“We remain united and resolute in our determination to oppose Russia’s aggression, aid the government and the people of Ukraine, and defend the security of all Allies,” the statement concluded.  

Thursday was day 29 of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

(pm/gs)

Source: IAR, PAP, Reuters, nato.int

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