East European states slam Russian ‘aggressive acts’ targeting Ukraine, Czech Republic

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The leaders of nine eastern European nations on Monday condemned what they termed Russian “aggressive acts” citing operations in Ukraine and “sabotage” allegedly targeted at the Czech Republic.

“The aggressive actions of Russia and the reinforcement of its military capacity in NATO’s immediate vicinity, including the recent escalation in the Black Sea, on the borders of Ukraine and the illegally annexed Crimea continue to threaten Euro-Atlantic security,” they said in a statement following their virtual summit in Bucharest.

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The participants, who were joined online by US President Joe Biden and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, said they “condemned the acts of sabotage perpetrated by Russia on the territory of the Alliance,” a reference to a 2014 explosion at a Czech munitions depot in which two people died.

The statement also expressed concern over “similar” Russian actions in Bulgaria, referring to Sofia’s investigations into four explosions at munitions depots between 2011 and 2020.

Several central and eastern European countries have over recent months responded by expelling Russian diplomats in solidarity with Prague over the Czech explosion but Russia has branded accusations of its involvement as “absurd” and responded with tit-for-tat expulsions.

Summit host and Romanian President Klaus Iohannis said he used Monday’s meeting to call for “a reinforcement of the military presence of the Allies, including of the US, in Romania and the southeastern flank” of the North Atlantic Alliance.

The so-called “B9” annual summit grouping Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia Lithuania, Poland, Romania and Slovakia comes ahead of a June 14 NATO summit in Brussels which Biden is due to attend.

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