NATO must beef up eastern flank
‘The Russia-Ukraine conflict is Europe’s most important security challenge since the end of the Cold War,’ Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski told reporters as the leaders met to forge their regional defence strategy ahead of a NATO summit in September.
‘Strengthening NATO’s eastern flank is fundamental,’ he said.
The summit is expected to focus largely on the fallout of the Ukraine crisis and Russia’s annexation of that country’s Crimean peninsula.
Ex-communist NATO members have asked the alliance for permanent ‘boots on the ground’ in the region amid the sharp escalation of fighting between government troops and pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine.
Senior NATO officials have said decisions on the possible permanent deployment of alliance forces throughout its eastern flank can be expected in September.
NATO has already sent additional temporary rotations of air, sea and land forces to Poland and three small formerly Soviet-ruled Baltic states in response to the Ukraine crisis.
Komorowski also said that in a Tuesday telephone call, US President Barack Obama reiterated a June pledge of one billion dollars (741 million euros) in military funding for US allies on NATO’s eastern border.