• Friday, 19 July 2024

Stoltenberg assures Eastern states: NATO will 'defend every ally'

Stoltenberg assures Eastern states: NATO will 'defend every ally'

Riga, 11 June 2024 (dpa/MIA) - NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has again promised the states on NATO's eastern flank the alliance's full support in case of an attack against them, against the backdrop of Russia's war on Ukraine.

"NATO has the forces, resources, capabilities and political will to defend every ally," he said on Tuesday after a meeting with Latvian President Edgars Rinkevics in Riga.

Stoltenberg was taking part in a one-day meeting of the so-called Bucharest Nine Group in Riga.

The group includes Poland, Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and the three Baltic States of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania - in other words, the states constituting NATO's eastern flank.

The summit, at which Stoltenberg was joined by Swedish Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson and Finnish President Alexander Stubb as guests, was held in preparation for the NATO summit in Washington in July.

"The B9 summit is both a symbolic and a very practical platform for coordinating our positions on further strengthening the Alliance, regional security and our support for Ukraine," said host Rinkevics.

The nine countries in Central and Eastern Europe are concerned about their security in the face of Russia's war on Ukraine and - with the exception of Hungary - are among the staunchest supporters of Ukraine.

Hungary, which maintains close ties with Moscow, was only represented at the meeting in Riga by its ambassador - as was Slovakia.

Poland's President Andrzej Duda considered the absence of a top representative from Hungary to be "not dangerous."

"We are united in NATO, and I am absolutely certain that we are also united when it comes to security here in Eastern Europe," he said on his arrival at the summit.

Other participating heads of state made similar comments about Hungary, which, according to a report in the Financial Times, may be threatened with exclusion from the B9 format.

The group was founded following the Russian annexation of the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea in 2014 on the initiative of Poland and Romania.

The next regular NATO summit is due to take place in Washington from July 9 to 11. The alliance is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year. NATO was founded in the US capital in 1949 by the United States, France, Britain and nine other Western states.

Photo: EPA