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NATO announces ongoing build-up of its military presence around Ukraine. Russia responds

The North Atlantic Alliance announced a decision to enhance its military presence in the countries of Eastern Europe and put its troops on standby amid the threat of a Russian attack on Ukraine. This refers to strengthening the bloc positions in Bulgaria, Romania, and Lithuania, according to a report on the NATO website.

A number of the bloc member states made relevant decisions to send additional military assets to the region:

  • the Danish authorities announced sending of a frigate to the Baltic Sea and four F-16 fighter jets to Lithuania;
  • Spain has already sent its warships to the Mediterranean and Black Sea to participate in the NATO Reassurance mission and is considering the deployment of its fighter jets in Bulgaria;
  • France announced that it was ready to station its troops in Romania;
  • The Netherlands stated it would send two of its F-35 fighter jets to Bulgaria in April. The country's authorities also announced that they would send their warship and a number of and-based units to the Alliance's Response Force;
  • The United States is considering several options for strengthening its position in countries of Eastern Europe.

"NATO will continue to take all necessary measures to protect and defend all Allies, including by reinforcing the eastern part of the Alliance. We will always respond to any deterioration of our security environment, including through strengthening our collective defense," NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg stated.

The Russian Foreign Ministry responded to NATO’s steps. The department stressed that the bloc used "the language of threats and military pressure."

"The best NATO’s contribution to improving the situation around Ukraine would be to call on the "partner" to fully and without delay implement the Minsk package of measures and a radical review of assistance programs for Kyiv, which only strengthen the authorities’ confidence in impunity for crimes against their own people and give rise to illusions about a possible military scenarios for resolving the conflict," Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko said in a statement, quoted by Interfax.

Context: Western countries, including the United States, over the past few months have expressed concern about a possible Russian invasion of Ukraine. The White House believes that this could happen at any point. The Department of State does not exclude that the attack may happen during the Russian-Belarusian military exercises.

Russian President Vladimir Putin requires guarantees from the North Atlantic Alliance that it will refuse further expansion to the east, in particular, will not support Ukraine's accession to the Alliance.

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