NATO justified in reinforcing defence of Allies, Secretary General says in visit to Poland
NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said the Alliance was fully justified in reinforcing the defence of Poland and other Allies in wake of the Ukraine crisis. “Russia’s illegal and illegitimate aggression against Ukraine is the greatest challenge to Europe’s security in a generation. So we have rightly reinforced the defence of our Allies, including Poland,” the Secretary General said at the start of his visit to Warsaw on Wednesday (7 May 2014).
Mr. Fogh Rasmussen is in Poland for talks with Polish government leaders to discuss the Ukraine crisis and preparations for the Alliance’s Summit in Wales this September. “NATO’s greatest responsibility is to protect and defend our populations and territory,” he said ahead of a working dinner with Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski and Defence Minister Tomasz Siemoniak. Allies have deployed ships and aircraft “demonstrating the Alliance’s vigilance and resolve, from the Baltic to the Black Sea,” Mr.Fogh Rasmussen said, adding that NATO stood ready to take further steps, with enhanced exercises, updated defence plans, and appropriate deployments. “We have sent an unmistakable message to Russia: your behaviour does not belong in the 21st century and your rhetoric draws on obscure clichés of the Cold War,” said the Secretary General.
He urged Russia to de-escalate the crisis, live up to its international obligations, stop supporting separatists and pull back its troops from Ukraine’s borders so that a political solution can be found to the crisis. Mr. Fogh Rasmussen also said that Russia should stop undermining the 25 May presidential elections in Ukraine.
On Thursday the Secretary General will hold talks with President Bronislaw Komorowsky and Prime Minister Donald Tusk before leaving for Tallinn, Estonia, where he will join NATO ambassadors in a visit to the Alliance’s Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence. He will also deliver a key note speech at the University of Tallinn and meet with Estonian President, Mr. Toomas Ilves, Prime Minister, Mr. Taavi Roivas and the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Urmas Paet.