NATO looking to boost forces in eastern Europe, says alliance chief Stoltenberg

NATO is looking to expand its forces towards central and eastern Europe, the chief of alliance said on Wednesday.

Speaking ahead of a gathering of NATO leaders in Brussels, Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg warned Russia against using nuclear weapons, but also added that it does not seek a direct confrontation.

“I expect leaders will agree to strengthen NATO’s posture in all domains, with major increases in the eastern part of the alliance. On land, in the air and at sea,” Stoltenberg told a news conference.

He added that the decision to send forces eastward would be taken on Thursday during the NATO summit in Brussels.

NATO has sharply increased its presence at the eastern border of the alliance, with some 40,000 troops spread from the Baltic to the Black Sea, and is seeking to deploy four new combat units in Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania, Slovakia, he said.

The secretary-general also said that he expects leaders to task military commanders with looking into the alliance’s long-term options. 

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“There is a need to reset our deterrence and defence, and I expect that to be a substantial increase in our presence for the long term,” Stoltenberg said. 

Meanwhile, US President Joe Biden headed to Brussels on Wednesday to attend an emergency NATO Summit, address European Union leaders and hold meetings with G-7 leaders.

He will have the opportunity to coordinate on the next phase of military assistance to Ukraine, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan told reporters at a White House news conference on Tuesday.

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According to the White House, President Emmanuel Macron of France, Chancellor Olaf Scholz of Germany, Prime Minister Mario Draghi of Italy, and Prime Minister Boris Johnson of the United Kingdom are all slated to attend.

Biden has no plans to visit Ukraine, according to White House officials.

(With inputs from agencies)

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