European leaders to focus on Russia at security summit
European leaders are expected to tackle security challenges ranging from a resurgent Russia to global terrorism at the 10th annual GLOBSEC Global Security Forum in the Slovak capital Bratislava this weekend.
The conference comes as Russia and the West are locked in their worst standoff since the collapse of the Soviet Union because of the conflict in Ukraine.
British Prime Minister David Cameron and Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko are among a dozen senior statesmen expected to attend the summit, as is fervent Kremlin critic US Senator John McCain.
French President Francois Hollande will also be in Bratislava at the weekend to attend a separate meeting of the Visegrad Group comprising the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia.
No senior Russian representative is expected, according to the event's official list of participants.
Moscow has lashed out at reported US plans to deploy heavy weapons to its jittery NATO allies in eastern Europe, with Putin saying that the US-led alliance is "coming to our borders".
Putin on Tuesday rattled the West by saying that Russia would add more than 40 new intercontinental ballistic missiles to its nuclear arsenal this year.
"Its (Russia's) aim is to undermine the strategic balance in Europe and weaken the unity of the EU and NATO," Robert Ondrejcsak, head of the Bratislava-based Centre for European and North Atlantic Affairs security think tank, told AFP.
Last month, three formerly Soviet-ruled Baltic states asked NATO to permanently deploy several thousand troops in their region as a deterrent to Russia.
Although the alliance has so far made no decision, it has mounted a series of high profile military manoeuvres in the region.
GLOBSEC 2015 is organised for the 10th time by the Slovak Atlantic Commission, a Slovak NGO focussed predominantly on international security policy.
© 2015 AFP