The heads of state who are part of the Bucharest 9 (B9) Format adopted on Friday a joint 11-point Declaration strongly condemning Russia’s unprovoked and unjustified aggression against Ukraine, urging Russia to withdraw its forces from the Ukrainian territory and further support the need to “significantly” strengthen NATO’s deterrence and defense posture.
“We, the Presidents of Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania and the Slovakia, met today in the Bucharest 9 group to prepare the NATO Summit in Madrid. We welcomed the participation of NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg. We have met today, at a time of unprecedented deterioration in the security environment caused by Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, the worst threat in decades to Euro-Atlantic security. Russia’s war against Ukraine has shaken peace in Europe and caused enormous human suffering and destruction,” reads the Declaration.
The document states that the heads of state reiterate “the message of firm condemnation of Russia’s unprovoked and unjustified aggression against Ukraine, the former having benefited from Belarus’ complicity and used the Black Sea as a launch pad.”
“It is a brutal assault on the rules-based international order that is causing one of the most serious security crises in Europe in decades. We mourn the tragic loss of human life and the enormous human suffering and destruction, and we pledge to bring to justice all those responsible for atrocities and war crimes. We call on Russia to change its aggressive behavior, to withdraw its forces from Ukraine’s internationally recognized territory, to take responsibility for the atrocities and war crimes committed, to return to a conduct of compliance with international law. NATO must draw the necessary conclusions regarding its relationship with Russia,” further reads the document quoted by Agerpres.
“The unwavering commitment to Ukraine’s independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders, to its democratically elected President, Parliament and Government, to the Ukrainian people in its courageous fight to defend the homes, the country and the sovereign right of Ukraine to choose its own security arrangements and foreign policy without foreign interference” was also reiterated in the Declaration.
“We emphasized our continued support for Ukraine’s Euro-Atlantic aspirations. We also support Ukraine’s integration into the European Union. We are determined to continue and increase assistance to Ukraine, as a strong and democratic Ukraine is important for Europe’s security and stability. We have provided protection for millions of Ukrainian refugees,” the document said.
The heads of state also mention in the Declaration that “NATO has shown that its commitment to Article 5 of the Washington Treaty is unwavering and that unity, solidarity and cohesion remain fundamental allied values” in response to Russia’s aggression.
“In this regard, NATO has activated its defense plans, strengthened its deterrence and land, sea and air defense posture, including by enhancing its presence along the entire Eastern Flank, from the Baltic Sea to the Black Sea. Four new Battlegroups have been set up in Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia, and the existing Battlegroups in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland have been strengthened,” the document also specifies.
According to the Declaration, “NATO’s position of deterrence and defence towards a modern Advanced Defense, of a balanced, credible, coherent, sustainable and adapted manner throughout the Eastern Flank, taking into account national specificities and in line with the comprehensive 360-degree approach, must continue to be strengthened “significantly, in order to deter any aggression and ensure defence, contestation and prevalence throughout the operational spectrum, against the threats we face”.
“We need to increase the multidimensional allied presence and ensure interoperable combat forces in peacetime, reinforced in a timely manner with force and means, increased command and control arrangements, reinforced air and missile defense, improved infrastructure, military mobility and sustainable access to the fuel supply chain,” the document reads.
The heads of state also mention that they have agreed to be prepared to manage all other types of challenges to security, including hybrid, cyber and disinformation, and to strengthen their resilience.
“We agreed that terrorism remains a persistent threat to all of us and that continued regional instability on the Alliance’s Southern Flank requires continuous efforts and vigilance on the part of NATO. Instability beyond our borders also contributes to illegal migration, a serious challenge that requires our attention. The war against Ukraine also has serious implications for global food security, especially in the South,” the text reads.
At the same time, the joint Declaration also shows the importance of a lasting transatlantic connection, with North America and Europe standing together within the Alliance, noting the Allied commitment to “defend every inch of NATO territory”.
“The Strategic Concept to be adopted at the NATO Summit in Madrid will determine the direction on which the Alliance will go in the future. We have expressed our conviction that the future Strategic Concept will reflect, among other developments, the new security reality created by Russia’s war against Ukraine, that it will emphasize that the Russian Federation is the most significant and direct threat to Euro-Atlantic security and will renew the attention given to the main task of the Alliance and its greatest responsibility – namely collective defence – being highlighted at the same time that NATO will continue to fulfill all its three main tasks. It will also need to reflect the need to strengthen the strategic partnership with the EU to support global and transatlantic peace and security, including by strengthening political consultations and cooperation, and underlining the commitment to improve military mobility,” the document says.
At the same time, NATO’s Open Doors policy, set out in Article 10 of the Washington Treaty, has played a crucial role in strengthening Euro-Atlantic security, stability and prosperity, the Declaration states.
“We recall the decisions adopted at the NATO Summit in 2008 in Bucharest. We have welcomed the sovereign decisions of Finland and Sweden to apply for NATO membership and we look forward to receiving them as member states of the North Atlantic Alliance,” the text says.
The Declaration reaffirms the firm commitment to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Republic of Moldova and Georgia.
“We will continue our efforts to increase their resilience, recognising that their security and stability also contribute to the security of the Euro-Atlantic space. We will further strengthen practical cooperation and support for Bosnia and Herzegovina as an aspiring state. We are ready to meet our commitments to increase defence budgets and to allocate at least 2 pct of GDP to Defence by 2024. We will continue to support the increase in joint funding. We remain committed to continuing the meetings in the Bucharest 9 format as a way to promote common approaches and to contribute to Euro-Atlantic security,” the document reads.