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Poland to welcome NATO 'spearhead'

PR dla Zagranicy
Peter Gentle 05.09.2014 09:04
Poland's president has given support to the planned NATO 'spearhead' to ward off threats to eastern Europe from Russia and the strengthening of the alliance's eastern flank.

President Komorowski with defence minister Tomasz Siemoniak at the NATO summit in wales on Thursday: photo - PAP/Pawel Supernak

Speaking to journalists at the end of the first day of the NATO summit in Newport, Wales, Bronislaw Komorowski told journalists that alliance leaders will announce on Friday plans to beef up defences in eastern Europe following the crisis in Ukraine.

Though conceding that there will be no permanent NATO deployment in the region – as Poland and the Baltic states had been pushing for – he welcomed the construction of airbases and fuel and ammunition depots which would be used by a rapid reaction force, of around 4,000 troops, which could use the facilities at a moments notice.

Government leaders and officials attend a NATO leaders' dinner in Cardiff, Wales, Britain, 04 September 2014, on the sidelines of the NATO Summit 2014 at the Celtic Manor Resort in Newport, Wales. World leaders from about 60 countries are coming together for a two-day summit taking place 04-05 September: photo - EPA/YVES HERMAN

Komorowski said that whether or not the airbases and depots could be considered to be 'permanent bases' was a matter of semantics: “What's important is whether they will be effective,” he said.

He added that a more visible NATO presence in Poland “would make people feel safer”.

President Komorowski – who is at the NATO summit leading a Polish delegation which includes defence minister Tomasz Siemoniak and foreign minister Radek Sikorski – also welcomed the shift in NATO thinking back to protecting member states and not becoming involved, as Poland has done, in conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"The vision of the alliance as an expeditionary force which operates out-of-area is passing into history and its traditional role, of specialising in the defence of its member states, is returning,” he said.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, US President Barack Obama, British Prime Minister David Cameron and Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi hold a meeting on the situation in Ukraine at the Celtic Manor Resort during the 2014 NATO Summit: photo - EPA/ALAIN JOCARD

NATO leaders were cautious in their response to the announcement by Ukraine president Petro Poroshenko – who is also currently in Wales – of a ceasefire, beginning Friday, between Ukrainian forces and pro-separatist rebels in the east of the ex-Soviet state.

The ceasefire – part of a five-point plan agreed with President Putin on Wednesday - would freeze troops in their present positions after five months of increasingly bloody fighting.

NATO secretary-general Anders Fogh Rasmussen said he was suspicious of the deal as it was proposed by Russia, which has been “attacking Ukraine”, with one NATO official telling journalists on Thursday that Russia had “thousands of troops” currently in Ukraine.

The EU is expected to announce more sanctions against Russia for its alleged involvement in the Ukraine crisis on Friday. (pg)

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