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NATO ministers discuss boosting eastern flank forces

NATO defense ministers gathered on Thursday for talks to focus on strength and resistance on the military alliance’s eastern borders to prevent Russia from planning further aggression.

The war by the Kremlin in Ukraine since February has prompted the Allies to rethink strategies and agree that NATO forces should be present in greater numbers on that side. They have already increased the deployment of troops and material and want to guarantee a long-term presence of the forces.

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In response to the invasion of Ukraine, NATO says it has placed more than 40,000 troops under its direct command, mainly on the East Coast.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said the allies would decide on the scale of their currency over the long term “to make sure we can protect every inch of the allies’ territory.”

Defense ministers meet ahead of the NATO summit on June 29-30 in Madrid, which will seek to set a set course for the alliance in the years to come.

Germany has already announced its plans to strengthen its involvement in Lithuania, while France is looking to increase its presence in Romania, where it plans to deploy 1,000 troops reinforced with Leclerc tanks by the end of the year. .

Latvian Defense Minister Artis Pabriks said the military alliance should deploy larger armed forces and material to the Baltic countries.

“We want a better plan, we want a headquarters structure, we want to pre-position different types of equipment, so if there’s a crisis we shouldn’t have to wait,” he said.

Discussions in Brussels will also focus on the need for more defense spending, Stoltenberg said, with bids from Sweden and Finland to join the alliance also on the table.

Stoltenberg saluted the United States’ decision to send one billion dollars in additional military aid to Ukraine and said that NATO allies are ready to “provide substantial, unprecedented support” to the country.

The latest package, the US said, includes anti-ship missile launchers, howitzers and more rounds for the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System, which the US military is currently training Ukrainian troops for.

All major weapons systems are urgently requested by Ukraine’s leaders as they struggle to stop Russia’s slow but steady march to conquer the eastern Donbass region.

Speaking with Stoltenberg, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin praised the “historic decision” by Finland and Sweden to apply for NATO membership, expressing hope that the discussions would continue to progress favourably.

Turkey has clearly voiced its opposition to the Nordic pair’s accession to NATO and Stoltenberg is working hard to try to break the impasse. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan insisted that Finland and Sweden should show greater respect for Turkey’s sensitivity to terrorism. He is refusing to say his alleged support for Kurdish extremists.

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