NATO activates response forces for the first time ever in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine

In response to Russia’s invasion of its neighboring country of Ukraine, which is currently not a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, NATO has, for the first time in its history, activated its Response Force (NRF).

The leaders of the organization have emphasized that their deployments and defensive measures that follow “are and remain preventive, proportionate, and non-escalatory.”

“We have activated NATO’s defense plans to prepare ourselves to respond to a range of contingencies and secure Alliance territory, including by drawing on our response forces,” said NATO heads of state and government as part of a joint statement that was released on Friday.

The news came after the alliance held a virtual summit. “We are now making significant additional defensive deployments of forces to the eastern part of the Alliance. We will make all deployments necessary to ensure strong and credible deterrence and defense across the Alliance, now and in the future.”

The move is the first time since the inception of the organization since NRF has been activated. NRF is a multinational force composed of roughly 40,000 land, air, maritime, and special operations personnel who can be deployed by the alliance is able to deploy on short notice when needed. To activate the force, all 30 NATO members must agree to the action, which was achieved on Thursday.

In January, the Pentagon tapped 8,500 U.S. troops to be on heightened alert for this kind of mission, and with the activation of NRF, those troops could be ordered to Europe to help bolster NATO countries surrounding Ukraine. President Biden has emphasized, though, that the troops will not go to Ukraine as it does not have NATO membership.

The head of the NRF and Supreme Allied Commander of NATO Gen. Tod Wolters said the force’s activation is a “historic moment” according to a released statement.

“They represent a flexible, combat credible force that can be employed in multiple ways and we are utilizing fully their inherent agility,” said Wolters. “These deterrence measures are prudent and enhance our speed, responsiveness and capability to shield and protect the one billion citizens we swore to protect.” 




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