Nato reinforces eastern flank amid Russian invasion
(Update 1: Adds remarks on threats, China, edits headline)
Brussels, Mar 23 (EFE).- Nato will support the deployment of four new multinational battalions to Slovakia, Hungary, Poland and Bulgaria in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the organization’s secretary-general said Wednesday on the eve of an extraordinary summit.
“I expect leaders will agree to strengthen Nato’s posture in all domains. With major increases to our forces in the eastern part of the Alliance. On land, in the air, and at sea,” Jens Stoltenberg told a press conference.
“The first step is the deployment of four new Nato battlegroups. In Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania, and Slovakia,” he added.
This brings the total number of Nato battalions deployed in the region to eight, he said.
The heads of state and government of Nato’s 30 member states will meet in Brussels to assess their response to the Russian invasion. Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskyy will join via videolink.
The battalions, made up of a combination of multinational and national troops, will be deployed as long as needed in response to the Russian threat, which has prompted the alliance to beef up its military readiness, Stoltenberg added.
The number of US troops deployed in Europe has been raised to 100,000, many of them in the eastern part of the alliance, and 40,000 military personnel are under its direct command, he said.
Nato is also expected to provide support to Ukraine against “nuclear threats,” Stoltenberg said a day after Russia said it would contemplate the possibility of using nuclear weapons in case it faces “existential threat”.
“Tomorrow, I expect Allies will agree to provide additional support, including cybersecurity assistance, as well as equipment to help Ukraine protect against chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear threats,” he said without providing details.
“I also expect we will agree to step up tailored support for other partners at risk from Russian pressure, including Georgia and Bosnia and Herzegovina,” he added.
Stoltenberg pointed out that China has supported Russia “including by spreading blatant lies and disinformation.”
“Allies are concerned that China could provide material support for the Russian invasion,” he said. “I expect leaders will call on China to live up to its responsibilities as a member of the United Nations Security Council.” EFE