Brussels: North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) is set to considerably increase forces deployed on its eastern flank, Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has said.
Addressing a news conference on the eve of an extraordinary NATO summit to discuss the ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict, Stoltenberg added that he expected allies to agree to strengthen NATO’s position “on land, in the air, and at sea.”
“The first step is the deployment of four new NATO battlegroups. In Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania, and Slovakia. Along with our existing forces in the Baltic countries and Poland, this means that we will have eight multinational NATO battlegroups all along the eastern flank. From the Baltic to the Black Sea,” he said.
NATO Secretary-General explained how there were hundreds of thousands of Allied troops at heightened readiness across the alliance, including 100,000 US troops in Europe and 40,000 troops under direct NATO command, mostly in the eastern part of the alliance. These are backed by major air and naval power, including five carrier strike groups in the High North and the Mediterranean.
“We face a new reality for our security. So we must reset our deterrence and defense for the longer-term,” he stressed, adding that “there is a new sense of urgency. Because we cannot take peace for granted.”
Stoltenberg said he expected Allies to agree to provide additional support, including cybersecurity assistance as well as with equipment to help Ukraine protect against chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear threats. Ukraine President Volodymyr Zelensky is expected to address the meeting, Xinhua news agency reported.
He added that any use of biological or chemical weapons would have “far-reaching consequences,” while stressing that NATO is ready to “protect and defend allies against any threat, any time”.
The NATO summit will be convened in Brussels on Thursday. In a show of Western unity against the war in Ukraine, Brussels will also host a G7 and an EU summit on Thursday.