Finland, Sweden’s NATO accession to strengthen Poland, Lithuania: Def Ministers

Deterring Russia is the main challenge facing the countries of the free world, and the only effective way to do this is to strengthen NATO’s eastern flank, Poland’s defence minister Mariusz Błaszczak said on Friday in the context of Finland and Sweden’s desire to join the Alliance.

We would like the process of joining NATO to be as speedy as possible: Finnish FM

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During a joint press conference held in Lithuania’s capital Vilnius on the sidelines of the third Lithuanian-Polish Council of Defense Ministers, Minister Błaszczak and his Lithuanian counterpart Arvydas Anusauskas expressed their contentment with Finland and Sweden’s readiness to join NATO.

“We are enthusiastic about the idea of reinforcing NATO with Finland and Sweden’s accession,” Mr Błaszczak stressed, adding that “this strengthens our position, Poland and Lithuania’s positions, and keeps Russia’s aggressive and invasive capabilities at bay.”

“Poland is ready to ratify a treaty on Finland and Sweden’s NATO accessions immediately,” the Polish official stressed. In the same vein, on Thursday, Lithuanian parliament speaker Viktorija Čmilytė-Nielsen expressed Lithuania’s readiness to do the same.

Together for better deterrence

Mr Błaszczak said that the main challenge facing the states of the free world was deterrence.

He pointed out that in order to have effective deterrence, "the presence of NATO forces on the eastern flank must be increased and this presence must be permanent."

“Russians have committed war crimes on the territories occupied by Russia, and such crimes should not be repeated anywhere else. Russia should not be allowed to occupy other countries and destroy international order,” he stressed.

He noted that countries such as Poland and Lithuania were not only the "recipients" of security but that they were also contributing to ensuring their own security and the security of the entire alliance.

“The most important argument, in this respect, is to increase spending on security,” he added.

For his part, Mr Anusauskas said that “in the context of the war launched by Russia, a joint preparation for deterrence is of utmost importance. Within the NATO framework and bilateral format alike, we must brace ourselves for threats from Russia.” He added that Russia was perceived as a long-term threat to the West.

The Lithuanian official also announced the establishment of a bilateral working group.

He went on to say that Lithuania and Poland “are able to create viable forces dedicated to the defence against and the prevention of Russian aggression” as well as to the cooperation with Ukraine and joint planning of war activities, also in the field of aerial defence.