Feb 25, 2022 - World

NATO Response Force deploys for first time

Picture of Jens Stoltenberg

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg. Photo: Kenzo Tribouillard/AFP via Getty Images

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg announced Friday that the alliance has activated elements of the 40,000-troop NATO Response Force (NRF) for the first time, warning at a press conference: "The Kremlin's objectives are not limited to Ukraine."

Why it matters: Stoltenberg has called Russia's invasion of Ukraine "the most serious security crisis we have faced in Europe for decades." The NRF will deploy "on land, at sea, and in the air" in eastern Europe for the purposes of collective defense.

Details: The secretary-general said that the size of the NRF has tripled since 2014, but that not all forces would be deployed. He also said that NATO countries would be providing additional weapons and air-defense systems to Ukraine at the request of its government.

What he's saying: "We are deploying [the NRF] to ... prevent any miscalculations, any misunderstandings that we are not ready to protect and defend all our allies," Stoltenberg said. "This is something that all allies have agreed to do."

  • He added that eastern-flank allies "are extremely concerned. They are close to the fighting in Ukraine, and they also border Russia, and they've seen not only the military buildup and the ongoing war in Ukraine, but also seen the very threatening rhetoric because this goes far beyond Ukraine."
  • "Russia's attack on Ukraine is more than an attack on Ukraine. It's a devastating horrendous attack on innocent people in Ukraine, but it's also an attack on the whole European security order. And that's the reason why we take it so extremely seriously," Stoltenberg said.

Driving the news: NATO heads of state and government met for an emergency meeting on Friday to discuss security in Ukraine. They were joined by officials from non-members Sweden and Finland.

  • Russia's Foreign Ministry spokesperson warned Friday that Finland officially joining NATO would "have serious military and political repercussions."
  • President Biden announced Thursday that an additional 7,000 U.S. forces would deploy to Europe to help shore up NATO's defenses.
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