: Polish Defence Minister wants NATO to strengthen its eastern border

13:25 Apr. 13, 2016

Polish Defence Minister wants NATO to strengthen its eastern border

Poland's Defense Minister Antoni Macierewicz (AP photo)

Antoni Macierewicz says the move will help deter potential Russian aggression in Europe. 

Polish Defence Minister Antoni Macierewicz says that NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and the Commander of Allied Forces in Europe General. Philip M. Breedlove both agree on the fact that the NATO summit  in Warsaw should confirm the extended presence of the allied forces on the eastern frontier.

"We had a common goal in mind.  I think the decision is that the summit should confirm the extended permanent presence of NATO troops to deter any aggressor, with a focus on ensuring the safety of the so-called Suwalki gap", Macierewicz stated following talks with Stoltenberg and Breedlove.

Macierewicz stresses the 'Suwalki gap' is a key point that could possibly face security risks not only for Poland but for the Baltic States as well. The so-called 'Suwalki gap' is a sixty-mile stretch of land in northeastern Poland. This area goes by Russian ally Belarus to NATO member Lithuania and on to the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad.

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Read also Putin operates secret special forces across Europe – German journalist

Macierewicz also added that Polish demands for the strengthening of the eastern NATO frontier are likely to be achieved. He emphasized that it is not just about  the number of soldiers, but also about key organizational solutions, which will determine Poland's role as "a key country in the extended presence."

"I am very happy after the meeting. Both parties are satisfied, therefore, from one perspective we guarantee a good preparation in terms of organization of the NATO summit, on the other hand - and this is good news for Poland- our view on the presence of NATO in the east is shared by the Secretary-General and the General Breedlove "- claimed the head of the Polish Defence Ministry.

Read also Ukraine should top the agenda during NATO-Russia meeting - Polish National Security Bureau

Poland has been pushing for a permanent NATO presence in the region since Russia's increased aggression and intrusion in Ukraine in 2014. The current Law and Justice government agreed with this policy after it was sworn into power this fall.

Watch also Poland wants permanent US troop presence amid fears over growing Russian military threat

Decisions on whether Poland will get what it is asking for are expected to be made at the NATO summit in Warsaw, which is scheduled for July 8-9. The alliance wants to bring the presence of forces in Central and Eastern Europe and to strengthen the presence in the southern flank in order to protect itself from possible Russian aggression.

Strengthening NATO's eastern borders is a reaction to the threat from Russia, which annexed Ukraine's Crimea in March of 2014 and has continuously fueled the war in eastern Ukraine. Moscow considers, however, that the alliance's military presence in NATO's Eastern European states will be a breach of the memorandum agreed upon by  NATO-Russia Council in 1997.

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