Warsaw has called the pace of NATO increasing its military presence in Poland ‘unsatisfactory’ and is set to act to boost it, Prime Minister Donald Tusk announced ahead of the military alliance’s gathering in Brussels.
“We are gaining something step by step, but the pace of NATO increasing its military presence for sure could be faster. You remember the endless debates about the missile shield, with mediocre results,” Tusk told a press conference Tuesday, as cited by Reuters. “This is an unsatisfactory result for us.”
The Polish Prime Minister’s comments referred to earlier statements by Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski, who said that he would be fully satisfied if NATO located two heavy brigades in the country.
“We will act to increase NATO military forces in Poland, but we are aware that some time will pass before it becomes a fact,” Tusk told a media conference on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, Sikorski, who arrived in Brussels for a NATO foreign ministers meeting, yet again confirmed that Warsaw would welcome “some more prominent NATO presence in Poland.”
It is the first alliance meeting since Crimea rejoined Russia after a referendum on March 16 when 96 percent of the peninsula’s residents said they no longer wanted to remain part of Ukraine. The former Ukrainian autonomous republic decided to hold a vote after a new nationalist government came to power in Kiev following the February coup.
The West, however, insists that Russia “militarily occupied” Ukraine and “annexed” Crimea. The situation around Ukraine has reduced relations between Moscow and the military bloc to their lowest ebb since the Cold War.
Russia’s aggression against Ukraine “challenges our vision of a Europe whole, free and at peace,” said NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen. “It fundamentally changes Europe’s security landscape and it causes instability right on NATO’s borders.”
The goal of Tuesday’s ministerial gathering is to discuss ways to increase NATO's military presence in former communist Central and Eastern Europe in the wake of the Ukrainian crisis.
“Defense starts with deterrence so we will take the necessary steps to make it clear to the world that no threat against NATO Allies will succeed,” Rasmussen said at the start of the meeting, the alliance’s press-service quotes.
Russia has repeatedly denied any troop build-up on the borders with Ukraine, as well as plans to send any troops into Ukraine.
However, the West has been turning a deaf ear to the claims. It has also ignored the results of four international missions none of which “found ‘aggressive preparations’ and have not recorded any military activities, aside from the previously declared,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said earlier.
Moscow underlined that “even Ukrainian inspectors” agreed that “there were no major military activities being carried out.”
Instead, NATO is considering using the occasion to boost its military presence on the borders with Russia.
Asked if the military bloc could station forces permanently in the former Soviet Baltic republics,
Rasmussen said: “We are now considering all options to enhance our collective defense, including further development of our defense plans, enhanced exercises and also appropriate deployments.”
Meanwhile, the Ukrainian parliament approved the acting president’s decision to allow foreign military into the country for international drills in 2014.