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NATO's eastern flank nations demand better protection against 'Russian threats'

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By Philip Andrew Churm  with AP
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Eastern Flank nations in Bucharest
Eastern Flank nations in Bucharest   -   Copyright  Andreea Alexandru/Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Nine NATO nations on the eastern flank of the alliance held talks in Romania on Friday ahead of a key NATO summit later this month.

Some leaders are urging NATO to increase protection for them in light of Russia's war in Ukraine.

The nine, including Romania, Poland, Hungary, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.say they hope to forge a united voice within the 30-member alliance.  

"The result we are aiming for is a consolidated, united, coherent, robust and sustainable NATO presence on the eastern flank, especially in the Black Sea, the most exposed to the Russian threats," said Romanian President Klaus Iohannis.

"We want to ensure that the enhanced forward presence, which we have today on the eastern flank, will be extended beyond countries like Bulgaria, Hungary and Slovakia," added Polish President Andrzej Duda.

"Actually this has already been decided, but we want more, we want to transform it into enhanced forward defence."

During the Cold War, the eastern flank nations that constitute the Bucharest Nine group, first launched by Romania and Poland in 2015, were all controlled by Moscow, with the three Baltic states incorporated into the Soviet Union. 

Today they are all members of NATO and the European Union.