In response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, NATO activated part of its response force made up of 40,000 troops to secure member nations near the ongoing conflict.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg announced the deployment in a press conference on Friday, where he said that Russia’s intentions are “not limited to Ukraine.” He said the response force was being deployed for the first time in the alliance’s history to prevent “any miscalculations or misunderstandings” about whether NATO was prepared to defend its allies.
Stoltenberg explained that only a portion of the response force would be deployed. He added that NATO would be providing arms and defense systems to Ukraine in response to President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. Zelenskyy stated on Friday expressing gratitude for the NATO deployment but demanding a response to Ukraine’s requests to join NATO as an entire member nation, saying “everyone is afraid.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin made demands of NATO that it guarantee it would never admit Ukraine into the alliance before invading the former Soviet republic. NATO has expanded in recent decades to its current size of 30 nations, including the Baltic States bordering Russia.
According to Stoltenberg, Eastern European NATO allies are “extremely concerned” with the invasion. He said those allied nations are close to fighting in Ukraine and share borders with Russia. The “threatening rhetoric goes far beyond Ukraine,” he said.
Stoltenberg added that the “horrendous attack on the innocent people of Ukraine” is also an attack on the entire security order of Europe.
Joe Biden has also ordered US troops be deployed from European bases to locations closer to Ukraine. He has repeatedly stated that the troop and equipment movements are being made as defensive measures. He has no intention of sending American service members into the fighting in Ukraine.
General Tod Wolters, NATO Supreme Allied Commander, said the response force deployment was a “historic moment.” He said the force is flexible and “combat credible” for multiple forms of deployment. He said the deterrence presented by the NATO forces is “prudent” while enhancing the capacity of the alliance to protect the “one billion citizens we swore to protect.”