Politics

NATO sending part of response force to shore up European allies threatened by invasion of Ukraine

NATO leaders agreed Friday to send parts of its 40,000-troop response force to Eastern Europe to help protect allies who feel threatened by Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Canada has earmarked up to 3,400 Armed Forces personnel for NATO's response force

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg convenes NATO leaders, both in person and on screen, for a virtual summit at NATO headquarters in Brussels on Friday. (Olivier Matthys/The Associated Press)

NATO leaders agreed Friday to send parts of its 40,000-troop response force to Eastern Europe to help protect allies who feel threatened by Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

Speaking after a virtual summit of NATO leaders, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said the western military alliance will deploy extra land, sea and air units, adding to forces already in the region.

Stoltenberg would not say how much of the NATO Response Force would be sent.

"We are now making significant additional defensive deployments of forces to the eastern part of the alliance," he said.

"We will make all deployments necessary to ensure strong and credible deterrence and defence across the alliance, now and in the future. Our measures are and remain preventive, proportionate and non-escalatory."

Canada has earmarked up to 3,400 Canadian Armed Forces personnel — land, sea and air — to join NATO's main response force.

WATCH | Retired Lt.-Gen. Andrew Leslie on the prospect of a larger war in Europe

'This is the closest we've been to world war three in a very long time': Retired Army commander

5 months ago
Duration 5:35
"This is the closest we've been to world war three in a very long time," said retired Lt.-Gen. Andrew Leslie. "There's no guarantee that he [Putin] is actually going to stop at the NATO border unless we can deter him."

Defence Minister Anita Anand said Thursday those personnel are being readied to deploy alongside the "NATO response force should they be needed."

NATO also maintains a separate Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF), consisting of 5,000 troops and led by France. It also will be activated and sent quickly to help bolster states along Russia's borders.

The leaders' meeting, which took place Friday, came at the request of Latvia and Estonia, which invoked Article Four of the Washington Treaty, which calls for meetings when "the territorial integrity, political independence or security of any of the parties is threatened."

The NATO response force was created two decades ago at the insistence of the former Soviet Bloc countries which had joined the western alliance.

Stoltenberg's announcement on Friday represents the first time the response force has been activated.


What questions do you have about Russia's invasion of Ukraine? Send an email to ask@cbc.ca.

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