For the first time, NATO is responding to the deployment of Russian troops on the Ukrainian border with concrete measures.
That’s according to Germany’s Welt citing its sources, Ukrinform reports.
Given the buildup of Russian troops near the border with Ukraine, NATO responded with the first concrete military action, increasing operational readiness of its 40,000-strong Response Force. The Alliance seeks to protect its Eastern European members, the newspaper writes.
According to the move, NATO’s Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF), known as NATO Response Force, should be ready for deployment in the crisis zone within five days instead of the standard seven. VJTF is a multinational formation, staffed with nearly 6,400 servicemen. The group is currently led by Turkey, while in 2023 the leadership will be taken over by Germany.
Other units of the NRF, such as special forces or logistics, have also been put on high alert, and in the event of a crisis, their deployment term has been reduced.
According to the newspaper, the decision was made last week by the North Atlantic Council, which represents all member states. Earlier, Allied Commander-in-Chief General Todd D. Walters called on NATO governments to reduce mobilization periods.
The publication notes that the purpose of such measures is to improve the protection of the eastern member states (Poland, Romania, and the Baltic States), all of which are faced with a growing threat due to recent developments on the Russian-Ukrainian border.
A NATO spokesperson declined to publicly confirm the new decisions. He stated that Russia’s significant military buildup in and around Ukraine is unfounded and undermines security in Europe. The official added that Allies have made it clear that Russia needs to be transparent, to reduce tensions, and that any further aggression would bear costs and consequences.
NATO’s Russia policy of defense and dialogue remains consistent, the spokesperson said.
Since Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea in 2014, NATO has achieved the greatest strengthening of collective defense, including through the creation of multinational combat units in the eastern part of the Alliance.
NATO’s actions are defensive, relevant, and in line with its international obligations, the spokesperson explained, adding that the bloc remains vigilant and will always take all measures required to defend the allies and protect them from any threat.