NATO defense ministers to review Afghan Mission
Defence ministers from 41 NATO ally and partner nations are due to approve measures including more than doubling NATO's rapid response force as the two-day meeting commenced in Brussels on Wednesday.
The United States on Tuesday announced it would pre-position heavy weapons on the alliance's eastern flank.
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on Wednesday said the alliance would not get dragged into an arms race with Russia but must counter Moscow's "aggressive actions" in Ukraine.
"We will not be dragged into an arms race but we must keep our countries safe," Stoltenberg said, adding what Russia had done in Ukraine was not defensive.
Stoltenberg played down fears of a return to the worst days of the Cold War, insisting NATO's response was "defensive, proportionate and in line with all our international obligations".
“Today, we will take decisions to strengthen our collective defence and we will do that because NATO has to deal with a new and more challenging security environment,” he said.
He said he expected that they would increase further the strength and the capability of the NATO Response Force including its air, sea and special forces components.
“All together, we expect this force to be up to 40,000 strong. This is substantial increase compare to the previous level of 13,000 troops. We will also improve our advance planning. And speed up political and military decision-making.”
He said tomorrow (Thursday), they would meet the Ukrainian defence minister to review the challenges his country faced and at the same time would review the support the NATO was providing for a strong and sovereign Ukraine.
“We will also meet the acting Afghan defence minister to discuss our continued support for Afghanistan now, and in the longer term.”
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