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NATO allies to boost high readiness forces to more than 300,000 amid Ukraine war

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NATO allies will boost high readiness forces to “well over 300,000” troops as they strengthen their defenses in response to Russia’s war on Ukraine, alliance chief Jens Stoltenberg said Monday.

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Leaders from the US-led military alliance will meet in Madrid this week for what Stoltenberg said would be a “transformative” summit as it grapples with the fallout of Moscow’s invasion of its pro-Western neighbor.

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Stoltenberg said allies would bolster some of their battle group deployments along NATO’s eastern flank “up to brigade level” — tactical units of several thousand troops — and ratchet up high readiness numbers to “well over 300,000.”

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In addition, more heavy weaponry, including air defense systems, would be shifted forwards and forces pre-assigned to defend specific NATO members on the alliance’s exposed eastern edge.

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“This constitutes the biggest overhaul of our collective defense and deterrence since the Cold War,” Stoltenberg said.

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Stoltenberg did not give further details of the additional high readiness forces or how they could be deployed by the alliance.

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NATO currently has a high readiness force of around 40,000 troops under its command.

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The more than 300,000 troops are expected to form a larger pool that the alliance could tap into in the case of an emergency.

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Stoltenberg also said that leaders would agree to bolster NATO’s essential support to embattled Ukraine, whose President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is set to call in via video link.

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That package would include “substantial deliveries” of gear like secure communications, anti-drone systems and fuel, and help Ukraine over the longer term to pivot to using more advanced NATO-standard arms.

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That support is separate from weaponry that NATO members — spearheaded by the United States — are already funneling to Ukraine, including anti-tank rockets, artillery and air defense to help it hold back Russia’s onslaught.

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Read more: NATO members wrangle over how to treat China

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