Andrzej Duda made the appeal at a summit of the B9 club of NATO allies in Bratislava, Slovakia, on Tuesday, public broadcaster Polish Radio’s IAR news agency reported.
In attendance were the presidents of the B9 countries: Poland, Romania, Lithuania, Bulgaria, Estonia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Latvia, and Slovakia, as well as NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, according to officials.
Tha talks focused on security in the region amid Russia's war against Ukraine, news outlets reported.
Security of NATO’s eastern flank
Speaking at the opening session of the meeting, the Polish president said: “There is no doubt that as countries situated on the eastern flank of NATO, we are directly affected by the situation in Ukraine and the brutal aggression unleashed by Russia.”
He added: “We are also threatened by the actions of the Lukashenko regime in Belarus, such as hybrid attacks on our borders, the use of Belarusian bases as launchpads for attacks on Ukraine or Russia’s decision to deploy its nuclear weapons in Belarus."
Duda stated: “These are challenges that we must overcome together. And so we must make every effort to ensure that the security of NATO’s eastern flank and of Ukraine remain high on the political agenda of all NATO members.”
The Polish president stressed the need “to consistently strengthen” NATO’s defence potential and “to consistently support Ukraine, because a victory for Russia would pose a threat to our security,” the IAR news agency reported.
Duda also referred to the upcoming NATO summit in Vilnius, Lithuania, on July 11-12.
He told the B9 meeting: “Our shared priority must be to strengthen our security, to strengthen the security of our citizens. We must also lay down a clear path for Ukraine’s membership of the alliance.”
B9 leaders reaffirm 'unwavering support' for Ukraine
The Bucharest Nine leaders later issued a joint statement, in which they said: “We reaffirm our unwavering support for Ukraine’s independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders. This is the only way to restore peace and the rules–based order in Europe. We condemn in the strongest possible terms the unjustified and illegal brutal war against Ukraine.”
The B9 leaders said they expected that, during its July summit in Vilnius, NATO would upgrade its "political relations with Ukraine to a new level" and "launch a new political track that will lead to Ukraine’s membership in NATO, once conditions allow.”
The Bucharest Nine presidents stated: “NATO has reacted decisively to the drastic deterioration of Euro–Atlantic security caused by Russia’s aggression against Ukraine. We have enhanced the Allied military presence in the Eastern Flank, from the Baltic to the Black Sea, and we are substantially strengthening our posture for deterrence and forward defence, as defensive measures.”
They declared: “We shall enhance and invest more, individually and collectively, in our ability to prepare for, deter, and defend, in all domains, and in line with NATO’s 360–degree approach.”
The Bucharest Nine is a Polish-Romanian initiative launched in 2015 that aims to help exchange views and coordinate positions on the security of NATO’s eastern-flank countries.
It brings together Poland, Romania, Lithuania, Bulgaria, Estonia, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Latvia, and Slovakia.
In February, US President Joe Biden told a summit of B9 leaders in Warsaw that Article 5 of the alliance's collective defence treaty "is a sacred commitment” and that America "will defend literally every inch of NATO."
Biden was speaking in the Polish capital ahead of the one-year anniversary of Russia's invasion of neighbouring Ukraine.
Russia invaded Ukraine on February 24, 2022, launching the largest military campaign in Europe since World War II.
Tuesday is day 468 of Russia’s war on Ukraine.
Source: IAR, prezydent.pl