Strategy needed to stop Putin says Polish president

Duda stated that this strategy had to be based on a synergy of actions taken by Nato and the EU, and added that the potential of the Bucharest Nine should also be used. Robert Ghement/PAP/EPA

Andrzej Duda, the Polish president, has said that the most important task today is to support Ukraine and work out a coherent strategy to stop Russian President Vladimir Putin.

"What is needed today is to support Ukraine, strengthen its deterrence force and defence, and to build a coherent strategy in order to halt Putin's imperialism," Duda told a Bucharest Nine summit in Bucharest on Friday.

Duda stated that this strategy had to be based on a synergy of actions taken by Nato and the EU, and added that the potential of the Bucharest Nine should also be used.

Referring to Russia's imperial expansion and attempts designed to enlarge its sphere of influence, the Polish president expressed his conviction that Ukraine could defend itself and repel Russia's attack.

"We believe that Ukraine's ability to defend itself and maintain its sovereignty does not lie only in Ukraine's interests. It also lies in the interests of the Polish people, of Poland, of Nato's eastern flank, of the EU, and of the entire free world," Duda told reporters after the meeting.

The president said that both the Bucharest Nine summit and the forthcoming Nato summit in Madrid were designed to protect European security.

Having called for a significant increase in the number of Nato soldiers in every eastern flank country, Duda said that "the Enhanced Forward Presence (eFP), which is now at the alliance's eastern flank, should be expanded to include such countries as Bulgaria, Hungary and Slovakia."

"This has in fact been agreed upon, but we also want the eFP to be transformed into an Enhanced Forward Defence," Duda said, repeating that the point was to significantly increase the number of soldiers in all eastern flank countries.

Duda added that the transformation of the Tailored Forward Presence in Romania into the eFP should also be an element of this process.

The president also expressed hope that "the US presence in our part of Europe will be strengthened," and added: "This is the subject of our talks within Nato and during bilateral talks with the US."

The Bucharest Nine (B9) format was launched in 2014 as a Polish-Romanian initiative aimed at coordinating positions and exchanging views in the field of security between the nine countries located across the Baltic and Black Sea regions making up Nato's eastern flank.

Apart from Poland, the Bucharest Nine also comprises Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania and Slovakia.