Register now for FREE unlimited access to Reuters.com
BRUSSELS, Feb 25 (Reuters) – NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said on Friday the alliance was deploying parts of its combat-ready response force and would continue to send weapons to Ukraine, including air defences, while saying that Russia was trying to topple the Ukrainian government.
“We see rhetoric, the messages, which is strongly indicating that the aim is to remove the democratically elected government in Kyiv,” he told a news conference following a virtual meeting of NATO leaders.
Some of the 30 NATO allies announced the type of weapons that they would supply Ukraine, including air defences, he said, without giving details. “Allies are very committed to continue to provide support,” he said.
Stoltenberg said NATO was deploying elements of its rapid response force, which is made up of land, air, maritime and special operations forces, on allied territory.
“We are now deploying the NATO response force for the first time in the context of collective defence,” he said.
Separately, Germany announced it would be deploying a company of troops to Slovakia where the soldiers will build part of a new NATO battlegroup to be established.
“We are working on quickly sending a company to Slovakia,” German Defence Minister Christine Lambrecht told German public TV ZDF after talks with her Slovak counterpart.
A company usually comprises some 150-200 troops.
Germany will also send a Patriot missile defence battery to NATO’s eastern flank, together with some 300 troops to operate it. It was not immediately clear where exactly the system would go.
Reporting by Robin Emmott and Benoit Van Overstraeten; Editing by Philip Blenkinsop, Alistair Bell, Leslie Adler and Daniel Wallis
Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.