FMs stress need to reinforce NATO deterrence, def policies at Bucharest summit

The security of allies and support for Ukraine in the face of Moscow’s massive missile attacks on Ukraine were the main topics of the meeting of NATO members’ foreign ministers in Bucharest during which the allies confirmed the need to strengthen the Alliance’s deterrence and defence policies, Poland’s MFA said on Wednesday in the wake of the summit.

Poland’s Foreign Minister Zbigniew Rau took part in the two-day meeting in Bucharest, during which, for the first time in NATO’s history, Finnish and Swedish FMs sat next to other Alliance FMs.

“The Allies confirmed the necessity of strengthening NATO's deterrence and defence policies while taking into consideration the direct aftermath of the Russian aggression not only for Poland but also for the whole of the North-Atlantic Alliance. They also expressed solidarity with Poland in the wake of the tragic explosion in the town of Przewodów, as a result of which two Polish citizens died,” Poland’s MFA said.

The ministry went on to say that the officials discussed, together with Ukraine’s FM Dmytro Kuleba, the possibility of stepping up support for Kyiv. FM Rau talked about the size and scope of Poland's help and said that Poland supports Ukraine's hopes to join the EU and the Atlantic. “Free and stable Ukraine, embedded in western institutions, demonstrates vital importance for our security,” FM Rau was quoted as saying by the Polish MFA.

Also on the agenda of the meeting was the topic of the threat to the Alliance’s energy security. The discussion also touched on protecting critical infrastructure in the face of the approaching winter. The growing power of China and the talks between Beijing and Moscow were also talked about as a challenge for the Alliance.

On Tuesday, NATO allies said they would help Ukraine repair its energy infrastructure, which has been heavily damaged by Russian shelling, in what Mr Stoltenberg described as an attempt by Vladimir Putin to “weaponise winter”.

“Russia is using brutal missile and drone attacks to leave Ukraine cold and dark this winter,” the official said at a news conference on Tuesday.

NATO foreign ministers vowed to increase political and practical support to Ukraine and maintain it for as long as necessary.

Russia has been relentlessly bombarding Ukraine’s power grid and heating infrastructure roughly every week since October, in what Kyiv and its allies say is a deliberate campaign to harm civilians and a war crime.

Even though Russia admits attacking Ukrainian infrastructure, it continues to lie and say that it didn't mean to hurt civilians or target them on purpose.

Ukraine urged its Western partners to supply it with air defence systems and transformers to blunt Russian strikes, Reuters reported.

NATO reiterates support for Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia, Moldova

The FMs also met their Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgian and Moldavian counterparts, who represented partner states “ at particular risk of Russia’s destructive interference in their internal situation.”

The Allies said they would develop political cooperation but also provide practical help with the view of building the resilience of the said countries,” Poland’s MFA said.

NATO allies pledged to help Moldova, Georgia and Bosnia-Herzegovina, as they face pressure from Russia, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg and ministers said.

If there is one lesson from Ukraine it is that we need to support them now,” Mr Stoltenberg told a news conference. “They are affected by Russian influence in different ways, but it is better to support them now than see developments that go absolutely in the wrong direction as we saw with the invasion of Ukraine earlier this year.”

The official provided little detail on what shape that support would take.

“I think to be able to resist attempts of Russian interference and influence, one of the most important things to be done is to complete the formation of the government after elections,” he said, turning to Bosnia.

NATO foreign ministers sought on Wednesday to restore confidence in fragile countries neighbouring Russia that they fear could be destabilised by Moscow as the conflict in Ukraine rages on, draining energy supplies and pushing up prices.

In his final statement summing up the two-day meeting in Bucharest, Secretary-General Stoltenberg also warned Western nations they must be careful not to create new dependence on China as they wean themselves off Russian energy supplies, Reuters reported.

FM Rau participated in a G7+ format meeting

FM Rau also took part in a G7+ meeting to help Ukraine with energy security and fixing important infrastructure.

On the sidelines of the summit, FM Rau participated in a range of bilateral meetings with his counterparts from Ukraine, the U.K., Sweden, Spain, and Iceland. Poland’s MFA stressed that those meetings had been an opportunity to deepen the discussion on supporting Ukraine and the development of bilateral cooperation.