Russia is the most significant and direct threat to Allied security, according to a declaration adopted on February 22 by the Bucharest Nine, at a meeting attended by the heads of state of Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania and the Slovak Republic, as well as US President Joe Biden and Nato Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg.
“A year ago, Russia ravaged peace and security in Europe by trying to subdue Ukraine by force. Kremlin’s actions led to a drastic degradation of the security environment in the Euro-Atlantic area, also gravely deteriorating the security of our partners,” the declaration said.
The declaration said that Russia is the most significant and direct threat to Allied security.
“In response to Russia’s bloody war of aggression, Allies reacted decisively in a united and responsible manner. To protect their populations and territory, Allies are committed to implementing the new baseline for Nato’s deterrence and defense posture and to enhancing Allied military presence in our countries.”
Nato is a defensive alliance, the declaration said.
“We condemn Russia’s war of aggression in the strongest possible terms. Ukraine’s civilian death toll is surging due to Russia’s indiscriminate missile strikes and deliberate attacks on critical infrastructure, including using the Black Sea as a launchpad. Those responsible for atrocities and war crimes will be held accountable. We are determined to sustain international pressure on Russia. We also condemn all those, including Belarus, who are actively facilitating Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine.”
The declaration said that in line with the UN Charter and international law, Ukraine is exercising its legitimate right to defend itself against the Russian aggression to regain full control of its territory and has the right to liberate occupied territories within its internationally recognized borders.
“We will continue to support Ukraine’s efforts to this end, as long as necessary. We salute the heroism of Ukrainian people and valiance of their military. We pay tribute to the Ukrainian servicemen and servicewomen defending their freedom and our common values.”
Uraine’s future lies in Europe, the declaration said: “We firmly support Ukraine’s Euro-Atlantic aspirations”.
“We stand ready to cooperate closely and support our partners the Republic of Moldova, Georgia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, that are most at risk of Kremlin’s destabilizing and malign influence, in the East and the South of the Alliance”
The declaration said that Russia had gravely miscalculated by invading Ukraine and undermining the rules-based international order.
“We are stronger and more united than ever, reaffirming the enduring transatlantic bond among our nations. We will continue to strive for peace, security and stability in the whole of the Euro-Atlantic area.”
The Voice of America reported that Biden reaffirmed the US commitment to the security of the B-9, whose members joined the military alliance after being under Moscow’s sphere of influence during the Cold War and are now looking at Moscow’s expansionist ambitions with concern.
“Today, as we approach the one-year anniversary of Russia’s further invasion, it’s even more important that we continue to stand together,” Biden said, reiterating what he called Washington’s “sacred commitment” to Nato’s Article Five that states an attack against one member is an attack against all.
“You’re the frontlines of our collective defense and you know, better than anyone, what’s at stake in this conflict,” he said. “Not just for Ukraine, but for the freedom of democracies throughout Europe and around the world.”
As quoted by Nato, Stoltenberg thanked Biden for his “outstanding leadership” and for the USs’ “ironclad commitment” to the security of Europe.
Stoltenberg underscored Nato’s “steadfast support” to Ukraine, as demonstrated by President Biden’s recent visit to Kyiv. The Secretary General reiterated the urgent need to “sustain and step up our support for Ukraine” and to give them “what they need to prevail.”
“Nato Allies have never been more united,” Stoltenberg said, “we will protect and defend every inch of Allied territory, based on our Article 5 commitment to defend each other.”
He highlighted Russia’s “pattern of aggression over many years,” stating “we don’t know when the war will end, but when it does, we need to ensure that history does not repeat itself.”
“We cannot allow Russia to continue to chip away at European security. We must break the cycle of Russian aggression,” Stoltenberg said.
The Bulgarian President’s press office quoted Roumen Radev as saying: “We need not only a comprehensive strategy for how to stop Russia’s war on Ukraine, but also how to win peace afterwards. The focus should be on achieving a rational balance between military, economic and diplomatic instruments”.
According to the press statement, Radev said that Russia’s ongoing war against Ukraine increases the threat to the peace, security and stability not only of the region, but also of the whole of Europe.
The conflict has been testing the social and economic systems of the European countries for over a year now and requires the search for new secure routes for the supply of energy and other resources to deal with the crisis, the statement quoted Radev as saying.
“What Europe will look like after the end of hostilities is also key, including the new security architecture that will shape our future.”
Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty guarantees the security of Nato member states, but the deteriorating security environment also requires real actions to strengthen the national defence capacity of individual countries, which contributes to common security, Radev was quoted as saying.
Radev also indicated that Bulgaria provides support to Ukraine within its capabilities and would continue to support international efforts in the search for a sustainable solution to the war in Ukraine, the statement said.
The statement comes against a background of Radev’s stern resistance to Bulgaria providing weaponry to Ukraine. Radev, who apart from his resistance to the military material support requested by Ukraine, and mandated by Bulgaria’s Parliament, has called for “peace”, is to the subject of a national protest in Sofia and other Bulgarian cities on February 24, in solidarity with Ukraine and against Radev’s stance on Russia’s war on Ukraine.
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