European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg presented a united front Sunday against pressure on their organizationsâ€™ eastern borders from Russia and Belarus.
â€œIt is important that the European Union and NATO work hand in hand,â€ von der Leyen toldÂ a news conference in Vilnius. â€œWe are testing and coordinating our crisis responses during regular exercises; and we are stepping up our coordination, cooperation on resilience, on situational awareness and on fighting disinformation.â€
The two leaders made a rare joint visit to Lithuania and Latvia this weekend to underscore unity amid theÂ crisis sparked by Belarus leader Alexander Lukashenkoâ€™s drive to push migrants to the borders of both Baltic countries and Poland, plus Russiaâ€™s menacing troop build-up in Crimea and close to eastern Ukraine.Â
Stoltenberg said the two organizations had held talks Sunday on advancing joint work, including through a declaration on areas of expanded cooperation. â€œWe are stronger and safer when we work together,â€ he said.
He urged Russia to be â€œtransparent, reduce tensions and de-escalateâ€ the tension on Ukraineâ€™s border.Â
â€œNATO remains vigilant,â€Â Stoltenberg insisted. â€œWe stand ready to defend all allies and we will continue to provide our partner Ukraine with political and practical support.â€
Von der Leyen said EU nations would stand united in the face of Lukashenkoâ€™s â€œdeliberate, cynical and dangerousâ€ actions.
â€œLukashenko has failed in his bid to undermine EU unity and solidarity. We are facing down his hybrid attack all together,â€ she stated. â€œBut we are also well advised to learn the lessons. To deflect away from their internal problems, our opponents do not shy away from waging hybrid attacks on us.â€
Faced with such hybrid threats, both NATO and the EU are currently undergoingÂ reviewsÂ of their security strategies.Â