BRUSSELS: NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg announced the fresh deployment of combat-ready troops to the neighboring countries of Ukraine.
This is the first time the NATO response force has been activated. The force also known as the rapid response unit comprises 40,000 troops, however, presently only a portion of the force will be deployed.
The Very High Readiness Joint Task Force is presently headed by France. It consists of land, air, sea, and special operations forces comprising of soldiers from the NATO member countries.
NATO member states that lie closer to Russia, including Estonia and Bulgaria, have expressed serious security concerns over Moscow’s advances in Ukraine and the threat of a further transgression into their territories.
This triggered urgent consultations on Thursday with the leaders affirming a commitment to credible deterrence.
“We will continue to take all measures and decisions required to ensure the security and defense of all allies,” the leaders said in a statement. “We will make all deployments necessary to ensure strong and credible deterrence and defense across the alliance, now and in the future.”
Although no troops have been deployed in Ukraine since it’s not a NATO member state as yet, some of the allied countries of the bloc have been providing support to Ukraine, including arms and ammunition supply.
On this, the Secretary-General said: “Allies are very committed to continue to provide support. We are now deploying the NATO response force for the first time in the context of collective defense.”
While emphasizing NATO’s resolve to protect its territory, Stoltenberg said: “There must be no space for miscalculation or misunderstanding. We will do what it takes to protect and defend every ally, and every inch of NATO territory.”
He even accused Russia of planning to topple the government in Kyiv through a series of propaganda measures.
“We see rhetoric, the messages, which is strongly indicating that the aim is to remove the democratically elected government in Kyiv,” he told a news conference following a virtual meeting of NATO leaders.
NATO Supreme Commander Gen. Tod Wolters activated the force following a call with NATO leaders on Friday morning.
In a statement, Wolters said: “This is a historic moment and the very first time the Alliance has employed these high readiness forces in a deterrence and defense role. They represent a flexible, combat credible force that can be employed in multiple ways and we are utilizing fully their inherent agility.”
“These deterrence measures are prudent and enhance our speed, responsiveness, and capability to shield and protect the one billion citizens we swore to protect,” he added.