President Karis: B9 states unanimous in call to augment NATO eastern flank

B9 leaders in Bucharest, Friday, June 10 2022.
B9 leaders in Bucharest, Friday, June 10 2022. Source: Office of the President of the Republic of Estonia/Social Media

All nine states taking part in Friday's Bucharest Nine (B9) format meeting in Bucharest, Romania, agree that the Russian Federation is a threat to NATO, and that the alliance's eastern flank needs to be strengthened accordingly, President Alar Karis says.

The president tweeted Friday that: "All agreed that Russia is a threat to NATO, and eastern flank must be strengthened," adding that: "Our support for Ukraine is unwavering, and will continue," with increased defense spend across NATO a necessary means to achieve this.

President Karis also held a bilateral meeting with his Bulgarian counterpart Rumen Radev while in the Romanian capital, and arrived back in Estonia late on Friday night.

The B9 meeting anticipated the Madrid Summit at the end of this month, where all 30 alliance member states' leaders will convene, in the context of the Russian aggression in Ukraine and other aspects of the current defense and security situation.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg attended Friday's summit via video link, and outlined the importance of further strengthening deterrence and defense, including on the eastern flank, with more combat-ready forces.

Further enablers and pre-positioning aim to leave no doubt that NATO will protect every inch of allied territory, the secretary general added, NATO reports.

The NATO Secretary General thanked the B9 group for their strong support for transatlantic unity, their significant contributions to Euro-Atlantic security, as well as their consistent support for Ukraine's sovereignty, NATO adds, and emphasized that Friday's meeting was particularly timely in view of Vladimir Putin's second invasion of Ukraine (the first commenced in 2014 – ed.), invasions which have led to the worst security situation in Europe since World War Two.

NATO has responded rapidly, Stoltenberg added, including by doubling the number of multi-national battlegroups from the Baltic to the Black Sea, with new battlegroups in Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia. 

Stoltenberg also stressed the importance of continued defense investment at the critical time, commending the B9 members for their consistent meeting, or sometimes exceeding – including in Estonia's case – the minimum 2 percent of GDP per annum contribution to the alliance.

The official membership applications accepted by NATO from Finland and Sweden last month were also on the agenda, while partnerships with these two countries, as well as with Ukraine, Georgia, EU partners and Asia-Pacific partners all need to be deepened at Madrid, the secretary general went on.

The B9 format incorporates Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania and Slovakia, as well as Estonia.

The format was established at the initiative of Polish President Duda and Romanian President Iohannis in the aftermath of Russia's first invasion of Ukraine in 2014.

The Madrid Summit will set NATO's strategic direction for the next decade and beyond, NATO says.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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