Rutte: Close ranks at NATO more important than agreements
The most important aspect of the NATO summit is that the member states have preserved their unity and put it on display, said Prime Minister Mark Rutte. The leader of the Netherlands said this is of greater value than agreements on the reinforcement of the eastern border region, or the supply of additional weaponry to Ukraine.
The heads of government of the thirty NATO countries, including U.S. President Joe Biden, gathered at NATO headquarters in Brussels on Thursday morning to discuss Russia's war against Ukraine. They agreed to keep applying more pressure on Russia, to increase support for Ukraine, and the additional deployment of troops in eastern member states that are closer to Russia.
But "the most important thing was the attitude everyone had there," Rutte said afterwards. "We have to guard and maintain unity with each other, and you notice that everyone wants that."
NATO leaders confirmed the deployment of four new battle groups in Hungary, Slovakia, Bulgaria, and Romania. The Netherlands wants to supply soldiers to the battalion in Romania, and is working that out with France, which wants to take command there.
The Netherlands has already stationed soldiers in Lithuania, and will defend the Slovakian airspace with a Patriot missile installation there. The Dutch military also sent F-35 and F-16 fighter jets to monitor the eastern flank of the NATO treaty area. Separately, Dutch fighter jets will also patrol Bulgarian airspace in April and May.
Reporting by ANP