Poland’s defense minister Tomasz Siemoniak held a press conference on Thursday with NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg, saying that the period of peace following the Cold-War is “now over,” referring to the Ukrainian crisis.
The press conference was held in the western town of Zagan after an exercise by NATO’s new rapid reaction force.
Siemoniak said that "after tens of years of peace, that peaceful period after the Cold War is now over."
"Because there are more and more crises erupting around Europe... It's not only the Ukrainian and Russian crisis but also ISIS and a number of different crises in northern Africa,” he added.
"I think it's a task for all of us to persuade the public that they should be ready to do more before it's too late."
Jens Stoltenberg said that NATO countries have been "implementing the biggest reinforcement of our collective defences since the end of the Cold War."
Siemoniak made his comments after Europe’s decision to extend sanctions against Russia over its annexation of Crimea and its involvement ın the Ukraine crisis.
Russia regards NATO’s recent move to militarise former Soviet countries in Eastern Europe as “disturbing” and is angered by the Euro-Atlantic bloc’s attempts to change the strategic power balance on its border.
Stoltenberg said that NATO will decide its stance in Russia and the US missile deployment discussion.
The United States’ proposed plan to deploy heavy weapons as well as thousands of troops on NATO’s Eastern European front would be its most hostile act towards Russia since the Cold War, to which Russia could immediately retaliate by deploying its own forces.
Stoltenberg said that "I foresee decisions later on regarding the question of prepositioning of equipment in the eastern part of the alliance."
Poland aims to secure permanent NATO presence
Jens Stoltenberg met with Polish president Bronislaw Komorowski on Thursday. Komorowski demanded NATO make its presence within Poland’s borders permanent.
Holding a press conference with Stoltenberg, Komorowski said that "Poland hopes that with joint efforts we can replace the rotation-based presence of allied forces on our territory… with permanent deployment."
Komrowski invited NATO to Warsaw for the 2016 NATO Summit and urged NATO to “[strengthen] the eastern flank of the alliance, ties between the allies and solidarity."
Since Moscow annexed Crimea and gave military and political support to the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics inside Ukraine, relations between Russia and the NATO have worsened to the levels they were at during the Cold War era.
The Kremlin blames the current bad relations on the US and NATO encouraging the eastward enlargement of the Euro-Atlantic alliance further into the post-Soviet space, while the alliance has in turn raised concerns over Moscow’s recent increased military presence in Eastern Europe.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said that Russia’s move to deploy nuclear weapons in its exclave of Kaliningrad near the Polish border, as well as in recently-annexed Crimea, could endanger European security and fundamentally change the strategic balance of power in favour of Moscow.
Russia has allegedly increased its military activities in the Baltic and Nordic regions where planes and submarines belonging to the country were intercepted or detected last year.
Russian incursions, mostly into the airspace of the Baltic airspace, have sparked the reaction of Eastern European countries, while Sweden and Finland have been complained of Russian submarines violating their territorial waters.
As relations have soured between Russia and the West, the question of NATO membership came to the fore in the ex-Soviet countries bordering Russia.
The Euro-Atlantic alliance has admitted most of the post-Soviet countries into the alliance, except Ukraine and Georgia the membership of which has essentially been blocked by Moscow.
Meanwhile, the Belarus and Armenia have chosen to join the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO), described by some as Russia’s new Warsaw Pact.
Poland and the Baltic states have been angling to acquire US military support since last year, when NATO members reached a decision to "preposition" military equipment in Eastern Europe at the NATO summit in Wales.