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NATO Chief: Four Battalions Going to Baltic States, Poland

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg speaks during a media conference at NATO headquarters in Brussels on Monday, June 13, 2016. Virginia Mayo/AP
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg speaks during a media conference at NATO headquarters in Brussels on Monday, June 13, 2016. Virginia Mayo/AP

BRUSSELS -- NATO's chief said Monday the alliance will agree this week to send four multinational battalions to the Baltic states and Poland to boost their defenses against Russia.

Jens Stoltenberg, the NATO secretary-general, said alliance defense ministers will formally approve the deployment plan drafted by NATO military planners at a meeting that begins Tuesday in Brussels.

Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland, four of NATO's members that feel most threatened by Russia, will each be reinforced by "a robust multinational battalion," Stoltenberg told a news conference.

"This will send a clear signal that NATO stands ready to defend any ally," the NATO chief said.

Stoltenberg said the battalions will be commanded by NATO military leaders, and deployed on a rotational basis rather than being based permanently in the host countries.

U.S. NATO Ambassador Douglas Lute said details of the number of troops to be deployed as well as the national composition of the battalions and who will be in their command will be decided and announced at the July NATO summit in Warsaw. NATO officials say that some 4,000 troops will be involved.

Lute, speaking Monday during a telephone press briefing, said the rotation will be on the heel-to-toe basis, meaning the troops will be present in the host countries every day of the year.

Lute said the troops will remain as long as is necessary.

The United States, Britain and Germany have already committed to acting as so-called framework nations for three of the battalions. It was not immediately clear which NATO member country would agree to furnish the core forces for the fourth battalion.

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This article was from The Associated Press and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

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