Response to Russia’s aggression: NATO to increase presence in east to defend all allies

NATO is about to increase its military presence in the eastern part of the Alliance in order to ‘defend all allies against any threats from any direction’, Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Thursday at the meeting of NATO Defence Ministers in Brussels.

“The current size [of NATO Response Force – Belsat] is around 13,000. I expect that they will decide on a force which will be around 30,000 and part of that enhanced NATO Response Force, I expect will be the establishment of this Spearhead Force, which I expect will be of a size of around 5,000. And this Spearhead Force will have some lead elements which will be able to deploy within a very very short notice. We  speak about a few days. So these are two important elements. The establishment of a Spearhead Force, expected to be around 5,000 and the enhanced NATO Response Force of about 30,000,” Stoltenberg said at the start but noted that the final decision would be taken later.

Such measure is a response to Russia‘s actions, he pointed out.

“So this is something we do it as a response to the aggressive actions we have seen of Russia violating international law and annexing Crimea. And I very much underline that this is something we do because we have to adapt our forces when we see that the world is changing.”

The NATO Secretary General is going to have several meetings in Munich with U.S. Vice President Biden, with Ukraine’s President Poroshenko, and also with Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov. Last April after the crisis in Crimea NATO suspended all practical cooperation with Russia‘, but decided to keep channels for political contact open, Stoltenberg said.

“The important thing for NATO is to underline that Russia is responsible for violating international law, for violating the sovereignty, the territorial integrity of Ukraine, annexing Crimea, destabilising eastern Ukraine,” the top official stressed.

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