Department of Defense Spokesman Eric Pahon provided the following readout:

Deputy Secretary of Defense Dr. Kathleen Hicks virtually addressed NATO eastern flank Allies at the Bucharest-Nine (B9) Defense Ministerial in Romania today. Co-hosted by Romania and Poland, this forum brought together B9 defense ministers from Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, and Slovakia to discuss recent events in the region, defense cooperation, NATO strategic priorities, and EU-NATO cooperation. 

The Deputy Secretary affirmed the U.S. commitment to NATO’s eastern flank and commented on recent Russian activity around Ukraine, the migrant crisis on the Belarusian-EU border, and strategic competition with the Peoples’ Republic of China. 

Deputy Secretary Hicks recognized progress on Allied responsibility sharing, the importance of deterrence and defense, and contributions to international operations.  She underscored that EU defense initiatives should remain coherent, mutually reinforcing, interoperable with, and available to NATO. 

The Deputy Secretary also reaffirmed President Biden’s statements to the B9 Summit in May, which included the importance of shared democratic values and resilience in support of Euro-Atlantic collective security.

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