U.S. President Joe Biden and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg are in Warsaw Wednesday, to attend the summit of the Bucharest Nine, countries on NATO’s easternmost flank; Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Lithuania, Latvia, Poland, Romania, and Slovakia.
This little-known grouping is an initiative launched in 2015 by Romanian President Klaus Iohannis and Polish President Andrzej Duda. It is aimed at enhancing cooperation among NATO’s newest members to support the alliance’s objectives of improving security and stability between the Baltic and Black Seas.
Biden is set to reaffirm U.S. commitment for B-9 security, whose members joined the military alliance after being under Russia’s sphere of influence during the Cold War and are now looking at Moscow’s expansionist ambitions with concern.
“The president looks forward to talking about NATO’s shared commitment to freedom and democracy, which Ukraine is fighting to defend, and the critical leadership many of our allies on the eastern flank have provided as together we have strengthened NATO to meet any threat we may face,” a National Security Council spokesperson told VOA.
Except for Bulgaria and Hungary, B-9 members are now among the strongest supporters of military aid to Ukraine and pushing back against Russia.
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who has vowed to maintain relations with Moscow, is not attending the meeting, sending President Katalin Novák in his place. Meanwhile, caretaker Bulgarian President Rumen Radev has been hardening his government’s anti-war position, opposing the West’s efforts to fortify Ukraine with weapons.
Despite some divergence on Ukraine, B-9 leaders are expected to pave the way for hashing out a common stance for a NATO summit in Vilnius, Lithuania July 11and 12.
Biden Tuesday used a speech in Poland’s capital, Warsaw, to defend NATO’s year-long effort to help Ukraine fend off Russia’s invasion and vowed it would not stop.
“One year ago, the world was bracing for the fall of Kyiv,” Biden told the over ten thousand Poles gathered outdoors at Poland’s Royal Castle complex. “Well, I’ve just come from a visit to Kyiv, and I can report Kyiv stands strong. It stands tall. And most important, it stands free.”
Fresh off his dramatic visit to the Ukrainian capital, Kyiv, on Monday, Biden assailed Russian President Vladimir Putin for the invasion he launched a year ago this Friday and said the Russian leader could just as easily end the warfare.
Some information for this report came from The Associated Press and Reuters.