NATO has said it has no troops in Ukraine and is not planning to send any into the country but the alliance is still activating its “defensive plans” allowing deployments that “cover the whole east of our alliance”.
This comes after Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a military operation in Ukraine, a non-NATO member, on Thursday 24 February 2022 with explosions heard soon after in the capital and other parts of the country.
Putin warned, “Whoever would try to stop us and further create threats, to our people, should know that Russia’s response will be immediate and lead you to such consequences that you have never faced in your history.”
NATO Secretary-General, Jens Stoltenberg told a media conference on Thursday that the alliance will hold a video summit on Friday to discuss the Russian invasion of its pro-Western neighbour.
On Sunday, Stoltenberg told BBC, “We have no plans to deploy NATO combat troops to Ukraine…we are focusing on providing support. There is a difference between being a NATO member and being a strong and highly valued partner as Ukraine.”
It is the first time the alliance has publicly said it is activating its defence plans, which were drawn up after Russia’s 2014 invasion and annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea peninsula.
Stoltenberg did not give details of them beyond saying they are “defensive plans” allowing deployments that “cover the whole east of our alliance” and which “give our military commanders some more authority within politically defined guidelines”.
He said it would include elements of NATO’s rapid reaction force of 40 000 soldiers, including a highly prepared unit of 7 000 personnel, most of them French, and an air wing under French command.
Stoltenberg said Friday’s summit would also include non-NATO members Sweden and Finland, and EU chiefs Ursula von der Leyen and Charles Michel.