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NATO Leaders agree to bolster Eastern Forces after invasion

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Finland, Sweden brush off Moscow’s warning on joining NATO
Tanks uploaded on military truck platforms as a part of additional British troops and military equipment arrive at Estonia’s NATO Battle Group base in Tapa, Estonia on Friday.

BELGIUM, FINLAND: US President Joe Biden and his NATO counterparts agreed Friday to send thousands of troops backed by air and naval support to protect allies near Russia and Ukraine in response to President Vladimir Putin’s decision to invade, the organization’s top civilian official said.

Speaking after chairing a NATO summit, Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said the 30-nation organization will send parts of the NATO Response Force (NRF) and elements of a quickly deployable spearhead unit to the alliance’s eastern flank.

The NRF can number up to 40,000 troops, but Stoltenberg said that NATO would not be deploying the entire force. Parts of a spearhead unit known in NATO jargon as the Very High Readiness Joint Task Force, which is currently led by France, will also be sent.

Meanwhile, Finland and Sweden have brushed off warnings from neighbouring Russia that their possible joining of NATO would trigger “serious military-political consequences” from Moscow for the two countries.

A statement from the Russian Foreign Ministry voiced concern about what it described as efforts by the United States and some of its allies to “drag” Finland and Sweden into NATO and warned that Moscow would be forced to take retaliatory measures if they join the alliance.

“We don’t think that it calls for a military threat,” Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto said in an interview with the Finnish public broadcaster YLE on Saturday.

Finland has a 1,340-kilometre (830-mile) land border with Russia — the longest border shared by any European Union member state and Russia.

In Sweden, Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson also addressed Moscow’s statement in a joint news conference Friday with Sweden’s military commander Micael Byden.


Monday, February 28, 2022 – 01:00

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