NATO allies must "stand together against threats from the East" says Boris Johnson

NATO allies must "stand together against threats from the East" says Boris Johnson to "protect ourselves" against cyber crime and "intimidation," the BBC reported after the prime minister met NATO Secretary General, Jens Stoltenberg in Downing Street.

He also condemned the recent "appalling, outrageous" hijacking of the Ryanair flight over Belarus and the arrest of an opposition journalist.

NATO leaders will discuss the incident at a summit in Brussels in two weeks.

Western powers expressed outrage after the Ryanair flight from Athens bound for Vilnius in May was forced to land in Belarus where journalist, Roman Protasevich, was detained.

Belarus - a close ally of Russia - had scrambled a fighter jet to force the plane to land, claiming a bomb threat.

Speaking at the time, Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab, described the incident as "a shocking assault on civil aviation".

And he previously called for "like-minded countries to come together" amid concerns about Russia and China and their influence in the region.

Speaking alongside Mr Stoltenberg at Number 10, the prime minister said NATO allies had been "outstanding" in the "way they have come together to support the UK over the Salisbury poisonings".

He praised how several allies had expelled Russian diplomats as a show of sympathy for the UK.

But he said it was imperative that countries continue to "make sure we work together to protect ourselves against cyber threats, against all the kinds of intimidation that some alliance members still feel there on Nato's eastern borders".

He said: "If you look at what's happened recently with the appalling, outrageous incident of the hijacking over Belarus I think Nato members will be wanting to stand together in protest against what happened and to call for the release of Roman Protasevich and indeed his girlfriend from captivity in Belarus."

"Standing together against threats from the East is very much part of the vision" for NATO in the years ahead," he added.

Mr Stoltenberg said standing together against threats from the East was central to Nato's 2030 agenda.

He said allies - who will gather in Brussels in two week's time - will discuss how their commitment to their "common defence" is more important than ever in an "unpredictable world".

He said recent events had demonstrated the "need to strengthen our alliance and that is exactly what we are going to do".

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