NATO sends part of response force to shore up European allies threatened by invasion of Ukraine

NATO leaders agreed on Friday to send part of a 40,000 response force to Eastern Europe to help protect allies who feel threatened by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Speaking after a virtual summit of NATO leaders, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said the western military alliance would deploy additional land, sea and air units, adding to the forces already in the region.

Stoltenberg did not say how many NATO Response Forces would be dispatched.

“We are now making a significant deployment of additional defense forces to the eastern part of the alliance,” he said.

“We will make all necessary deployments to ensure strong and credible deterrence and defense across the alliance, now and in the future. Our measures are and remain preventive, proportionate and non-increasing.”

Canada has allocated up to 3,400 Canadian Armed Forces personnel — land, sea, and air — to join NATO’s main response force.

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Defense Minister Anita Anand said on Thursday the personnel were being prepared to deploy with “NATO response forces if they are needed.”

NATO also has a separate Joint Very High Readiness Task Force (VJTF), consisting of 5,000 troops and led by France. It will also be activated and dispatched quickly to help strengthen countries along Russia’s borders.

The leaders’ meeting, which took place Friday, came at the request of Latvia and Estonia, who used Article Four of the Washington Treaty, which calls for a meeting when “the territorial integrity, political independence or security of either party is threatened.”

The NATO response force was created two decades ago at the urging of former Soviet Bloc countries that had joined the western alliance.

Stoltenberg’s announcement on Friday was the first time the force of the response was activated.

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Jackson Wintringham

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