Western leaders gathered in Brussels for an emergency NATO summit on Thursday (March 24), where they agreed to bolster defences along the alliance’s eastern flank. Four new NATO battlegroups are being set up in Hungary, Slovakia, Romania and Bulgaria.
“Today NATO leaders agreed to reset our deterrents and defense for the longer term to face a new security reality. On land, we will have substantially more forces in the eastern part of the alliance at higher readiness, with more pre-positioned equipment and supplies,” NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told reporters.
Stoltenberg, who will stay at head of NATO for another year, also said the war in Ukraine had changed security for the long term.
But he also made clear that the West had a “responsibility to prevent this conflict from becoming a full-fledged war in Europe.”
“We, the Heads of State and Government of the 30 NATO Allies, have met today to address Russia’s aggression against Ukraine, the gravest threat to Euro-Atlantic security in decades. Russia’s war against Ukraine has shattered peace in Europe and is causing enormous human suffering and destruction” a statement from the alliance at the conclusion of its meeting read.
Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelenskyy also addressed NATO members Thursday and appealed to them to increase military support for his country.
In addition to the NATO summit, the Belgian capital is also hosting separate summits of the Group of Seven (G-7) industrialised nations and of the European Union.
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Separately, the White House announced the U.S. would welcome 100,000 Ukrainian refugees and provide an additional $1 billion in food, medicine, water and other supplies.
At the same time, Washington imposed fresh sanctions on dozens of Russian defense companies, hundreds of members of its parliament and the chief executive of the country’s largest bank.
With reporting by Reuters, AP, Al Jazeera