NATO Sends Russia ‘Clear Message’ Its Troops Are Ready to React

  • Force of 4,000 to be deployed in four eastern Europe countries
  • Decision comes as NATO weighs how to deal with Russian threat

NATO said it’s sending a “clear message” to Russia by stepping up defensive forces in eastern Europe, as it tries to allay fears in former Soviet-bloc nations that they’re vulnerable to attack.

A multinational group of 4,000 troops will be deployed in Poland and the three Baltic nations, all of which border Russia, following an agreement by North Atlantic Treaty Organization defense ministers at a meeting in Brussels on Tuesday. The decision is designed to provide reassurance to eastern European governments on top of a rapid-response force that NATO set up last year.

“This is not that NATO wants to fight a war or that we want to provoke a conflict but that we know that strong deterrence is the best way to prevent a war,” Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told reporters at the conclusion of the meeting’s first day. “This decision sends a clear message: if any of our allies is attacked, the whole alliance will respond as one.”

Russia’s 2014 takeover of Crimea and proxy war in eastern Ukraine near NATO territory led the U.S. to rotate troops into eastern Europe and prompted the alliance to set up a 5,000-man rapid-response force that can mobilize within days. Leaders from NATO countries will continue discussing how best to deal with Russian aggression at a summit in Warsaw next month.

NATO does “not see any imminent threat against any NATO ally,” Stoltenberg said. Nonetheless, troops are in place and “the readiness will be very high.”

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