NATO agrees to beef up eastern flank after Ukraine attacked

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NATO agreed Thursday to beef up its land, sea and air forces on its eastern flank near Ukraine and Russia after President Vladimir Putin ordered a military offensive in Ukraine.

“We are deploying additional defensive land and air forces to the eastern part of the alliance, as well as additional maritime assets,” NATO ambassadors said in a statement after emergency talks.

“We have increased the readiness of our forces to respond to all contingencies,” their statement said.

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While some of NATO’s 30 member countries are supplying arms, ammunition and other equipment to Ukraine, NATO as an organization isn’t. It won’t launch any military action in support of Ukraine, which is a close partner but has no prospect of joining.

Countries closest to the conflict — Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland — are among those to have triggered rare consultations under Article 4 of NATO’s founding treaty, which can be launched when “the territorial integrity, political independence or security of any of the [NATO] parties is threatened.”

“We have decided, in line with our defensive planning to protect all allies, to take additional steps to further strengthen deterrence and defense across the Alliance,” the envoys said. “Our measures are and remain preventive, proportionate and non-escalatory.”

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