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NATO agrees to stronger eastern flank

February 10, 2016

A new plan agreed by NATO will see the alliance's military presence in Eastern Europe strengthened. The effort is meant to show solidarity and to reassure Eastern European members against perceived threats from Russia.

Brüssel Treffen der NATO-Verteidigungsminister
Image: Reuters/Y. Herman

Defense ministers from NATO countries agreed on Wednesday to a plan that would see the military alliance strengthened in Eastern European countries feeling at risk of aggression from Russia.

The "enhanced forward presence in the eastern part of our Alliance," as NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg put it, is designed to "make clear that an attack against one ally is an attack against all allies, and that the alliance as a whole will respond."

NATO, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, is a 28-member military alliance made up of mostly Western European countries. In the past two years, relations between Russia and NATO have been at a level not seen since the Cold War, due in large part to Russia's suspected involvement in Ukraine's civil war and the annexation of Crimea.

Other Eastern European nations are concerned that Russia would carry out similar operations in their countries, and have increasingly looked to NATO for support.

Wednesday's agreement is a renewed pledge of solidarity among members.

The full details of the enhanced eastern presence have yet to be discussed but are likely to be complete by NATO's Warsaw Summit in July. The broad plan foresees multinational forces stationed in eastern NATO countries on a rotational basis while a larger, rapid-response contingent would be available upon short notice from elsewhere in Europe.

mz/jil (AP, dpa)