WARSAW, Poland — Poland hopes that a bolstered cooperation between the European Union and NATO, combined with the alliance’s further enlargement, could spur a more robust approach to Moscow, according to senior Polish defense officials.

Speaking at the the Warsaw Security Forum, an event organized by the Casimir Pulaski Foundation think tank, Polish President Andrzej Duda said Oct. 5 that closer ties between NATO and the EU are required to combat Russia’s military-driven expansionism.

“We need a strong partnership between NATO and the European Union that ensures a synergy of both organizations,” Duda said. “Russia is expanding its military presence and it endangers NATO not only from the east, but also from the north and south.”

Duda said the EU’s Strategic Compass, a strategy under development that is to define the bloc’s security and defense policies, should be in harmony with the policies of NATO’s Strategic Concept document.

The president’s remarks were echoed in the speech by Paweł Soloch, the head of Poland’s National Security Bureau.

“There is an ongoing development of the military potential of the Russian Federation. On our part, this creates a need for a further adaptation of NATO’s capacities, also with the use of the instruments held by the European Union,” Soloch said. “Naturally, NATO has a significantly larger potential than Russia, but on the alliance’s borders, the forces accumulated by Russia give a tactical, and, for a defined time, also an operational advantage to this country.”

With this in mind, Europe “needs to have a single strategy that merges the potential of NATO and the European Union,” he said.

Speaking in the presence of Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba, who also took part in the forum, Soloch said that “NATO and the European Union must remain open for new members.”

In 2017, Ukraine’s parliament passed legislation that reinstated NATO membership as the country’s strategic foreign and security policy objective. The move came about three years after Russia invaded Ukraine and annexed the country’s Crimean peninsula in a move designed to harm Kiev’s western ambitions.

“The entire Russian policy on NATO is based on an assumption that NATO’s presence itself is a provocation. Whatever we do will be viewed by Russia as a provocation. So they only question is: will you do something, or will you not?” Kuleba said.

Meanwhile, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said during a visit to Washington on Oct. 5 that he had discussed options for enhanced support to Ukraine with U.S. President Joe Biden. With actual membership still some time in the future, alliance members could do more bolster the Ukraine’s aspirations in the fields of security-sector reform and anti-corruption, for example, Stoltenberg said.

Sebastian Sprenger in Washington contributed to this report.

Jaroslaw Adamowski is the Poland correspondent for Defense News.

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