NATO agrees to reinforce eastern flank after Ukraine attack


NATO has agreed to bolster its land, sea and air forces on its eastern flank near Ukraine and Russia after President Vladimir Putin ordered a military offensive into Ukraine

“We are deploying additional defensive land and air forces to the eastern part of the alliance, as well as additional maritime assets,” the NATO ambassadors said in a statement after the emergency talks.

“We have increased the readiness of our forces to respond to all eventualities,” their statement said.

While some of the 30 NATO member countries supply arms, ammunition and other equipment to Ukraine, NATO as an organization does not. He will not launch any military action in support of Ukraine, which is a close partner but has no prospect of membership.

The countries closest to the conflict – Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland – are among those that have triggered rare consultations under Article 4 of NATO’s founding treaty, which can be launched when “the territorial integrity, political independence or security of one of the) parties is threatened.

“We have decided, in line with our defensive planning to protect all allies, to take additional steps to further strengthen deterrence and defense across the Alliance,” the envoys said. “Our measures are and remain preventive, proportionate and not progressive.”

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. AP’s previous story follows below.

BRUSSELS (AP) – NATO envoys met in emergency session Thursday after Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a full-scale attack on Ukraine as the 30-nation military organization prepares to strengthen its defenses in the neighboring allies of the two countries. Preparations are also underway for a NATO summit.

“This is a serious violation of international law and a serious threat to Euro-Atlantic security,” NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said in a statement. Allies are coming together, he said, “to deal with the consequences of Russia’s aggressive actions.”

While some member countries supply arms, ammunition and other equipment to Ukraine, NATO as an organization does not and will not initiate any military action in support of Ukraine, which is a close partner. but has no prospect of membership.

“We stand with the Ukrainian people in these terrible times. NATO will do whatever it takes to protect and defend all allies,” Stoltenberg said.

The countries closest to the conflict – Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland – have triggered rare consultations under Article 4 of NATO’s founding treaty, which can be launched when “the integrity territorial, political independence or security of one of the parties (of NATO) is threatened.”

“The most effective response to Russia’s aggression is unity,” Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas tweeted. “Russia’s widespread aggression is a threat to the whole world and to all NATO countries.”

Kallas called for measures “to ensure the defense of NATO allies”.

NATO began strengthening its defenses in northeastern Europe after Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula in 2014. About 5,000 troops and equipment are stationed there, but those forces have been bolstered by troops and equipment from several countries in recent months.

A first step could now be to activate the NATO Response Force, which can number up to 40,000 soldiers. A rapidly deployable ground brigade part of the NRF – made up of around 5,000 troops and led by France alongside Germany, Poland, Portugal and Spain – is already on heightened alert.

Some NATO members have also sent troops, planes and warships to the Black Sea region near their allies Bulgaria, Romania and Turkey. The Pentagon has also put up to 8,500 US troops on heightened alert, so they will be ready to deploy if needed to reassure other allies.

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Jan M. Olsen in Copenhagen, Denmark, contributed to this report.

ABC News

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