For the first time in its history, NATO is activating its Response Force (NRF) in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
“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,” NATO heads of state and government said in a joint statement released Friday.
“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.”
According to The Hill:
The leaders stressed the moves “are and remain preventive, proportionate and non-escalatory.”
The extraordinary move marks the first time NATO has activated the NRF, a multinational force comprised of around 40,000 land, air, maritime and special operations personnel the alliance can deploy on short notice as needed. All 30 members of NATO must agree to activate the force, which they did on Thursday.
The Pentagon in January put 8,500 U.S. troops on heightened alert for such a mission, and with the NRF now activated, those troops could soon be ordered to Europe to help bolster NATO countries near Ukraine. President Biden has stressed, however, that they will not go to Ukraine as it is not a member of the alliance.
Supreme Allied Commander of NATO Gen. Tod Wolters, the head of the NRF, called the force’s activation a “historic moment” according to a statement.
“They represent a flexible, combat credible force that can be employed in multiple ways and we are utilizing fully their inherent agility,” Wolters said. “These deterrence measures are prudent and enhance our speed, responsiveness and capability to shield and protect the one billion citizens we swore to protect.”
The force is still on standby and has not yet been deployed.