NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen speaks during an Aug. 15 meeting. (Niels Ahlmann Olesen / AFP)
BRUSSELS — NATO is preparing a rapid response to the Ukraine crisis that would allow it to deploy troops swiftly to reinforce eastern Europe and dissuade Russia from further destabilising the region, the alliance chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen said Wednesday.
Speaking to newspaper The Guardian, Rasmussen said NATO would overcome divisions within the alliance at a summit in Cardiff next week and adopt measures that would allow it to move temporary forces quickly into the region.
“We will adopt what we call a readiness action plan with the aim to be able to act swiftly in this completely new security environment in Europe,” Rasmussen told the British daily.
“We have something already called the NATO response force, whose purpose is to be able to be deployed rapidly if needed. Now it’s our intention to develop what I would call a spearhead within that response force at very, very high readiness,” he said.
The move will not however include the creation of permanent bases in the flashpoint region, something eastern NATO members such as Poland and the Baltic nations have called for.
Rasmussen said that the temporary forces would stay “as long as necessary.”
Several NATO members argue a permanent presence by alliance forces would be a direct breach of post-Cold War agreements with Russia and could incite a very strong reaction from Moscow.
Rasmussen once again accused Russia of escalating the crisis including through direct action against Ukrainian forces with “artillery firing across the border and also inside Ukraine.”
“We have to face the reality that Russia does not consider NATO a partner,” he said.