The new NATO boss, Jens Stoltenberg, has announced the creation of an “interim spearhead” in response to recent Russian military activity following the crisis in Ukraine.
According to an Associated Press report, the move is in reaction to “Russia’s aggressive actions in neighboring Ukraine.”
“We are protecting our allies and supporting our partners,” Stoltenberg said.
Stoltenberg is the former prime minister of Norway. Following his appointment in March, he said the Russian “invasion” of Ukraine was a “brutal reminder of the necessity of NATO.”
The reaction force will consist of troops from from Germany, the Netherlands and Norway and will be in a constant state of readiness, according to Stoltenberg. The interim force will become permanent in 2016.
In addition to rotating troops out of states bordering Russia, NATO plans increased air patrols over the Baltic Sea.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry endorsed the provocative move. He urged NATO foreign ministers to contribute their “fair share” to the alliance and said “we can’t have 21st century security on the cheap.”
According to the German newspaper Deutsche Welle, Stoltenberg said that while NATO will not provide war material to the government in Ukraine, it will urge NATO member states to do so on a bilateral basis.
Tass, the Russian news agency, reports a NATO decision to provide funds intended to reform and modernize the Ukrainian army in logistics, command and control, cyber defense, military medicine and rehabilitation of the injured.
On Tuesday, the commander of U.S. Army Europe said he looks forward to adding 100 Abrams tanks and Bradley Fighting Vehicles to the forces in Poland and the Baltic states.
In response to the NATO announcement, Alexander Grushko, the Russian NATO ambassador, said the decision to exacerbate the situation in Ukraine is a change for the worse in the region. He said increasing military activity “will lead to serious risks of military incidents.”
“NATO is doing all this under the guise of the so-called ‘Russian threat.’ Our relation to these measures is well-known: this region of the world has seen no serious military and political changes and such steps don’t fit in the logics of building relations in the defense sphere on the new basis,” Grushko said.