NATO chief expects new battle groups in Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania, Slovakia
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on Wednesday said the alliance is likely to expand new battle groups in its member countries of Bulgaria, Hungary, Romania and Slovakia amid growing concern about Russia’s ongoing conflict with Ukraine, CNBC reported.
“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 said at a NATO leader summit in Brussels, Belgium.
Ukraine, which has been seeking a NATO membership since 2002, is bordered by the four alliance member countries of Poland, Slovakia, Hungary and Romania, according to CNBC.
Stoltenberg also told the media in attendance that the alliance plans to provide equipment to Ukraine in an effort to protect against chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear weapons.
Stoltenberg declined to speak on what kind of specific support the alliance would provide out of its operational security.
The NATO chief also mentioned that Russia using chemical weapons against Ukraine citizens would change the nature of the ongoing conflict. Stoltenberg noted that Russian forces had previously used chemical weapons on the battlefield during Russia’s attack on Syria, CNBC reported.
“It will be a blatant violation of international law and with far-reaching consequences,” Stoltenberg said.
President Biden, who will travel to the NATO summit and Poland, recently said Russian President Vladimir Putin’s use of chemical weapons to attack Ukraine is a “real threat,” adding Putin could resort to using “false flags” to justify chemical or biological weapons use on the country.
Since Russia began its invasion of Ukraine last month, NATO has deployed over 140,000 troops in the region, with 100,000 of them being U.S. troops, and sent a massive war chest of advanced military equipment as well.
NATO has warned Putin that if he conducts an attack on a member state, it will be viewed as an attack on all, allowing the alliance to invoke its cornerstone Article 5 that calls for a military response from all member nations, CNBC noted.
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