Belgium deploy 300 soldiers in Romania as part of NATO efforts to strengthen its eastern flank. NATO’s Rapid Response Force, activated for the first time following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The troops, who will be under French command and who will stay for between three and six months, are part of the force which is made up of land, air, maritime and special operation. Until February 2022, when NATO activated it in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, units assigned to the NRF were only used to assist with disaster relief and security at high-profile security events.
Ukraine also will receive 3,000 assault rifles and 200 anti-tank grenade launchers from Belgium. According to the office of the Belgian Ministers of Defence, these are weapons of the FNC type, an assault rifle manufactured by FN Herstal. These weapons are gradually being replaced within the Belgian armed forces by the FN SCAR. The FNCs are therefore collected with a view to being sent to Ukraine. Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo announced on on Twitter that some 2,000 assault rifles would be sent to the country, while a more in-depth analysis of arms requests was underway. Belgium will also deliver 3,800 tonnes of fuel.
A week after Russia invaded Ukraine one of the greatest ever mobilisations of Nato member armed forces is under way. About 22,000 additional Nato member troops have been moved into eastern Europe, bringing military equipment with them, while at least 20 countries – mostly Nato members – are supplying arms to Ukraine. Even before the invasion Nato secretary general Jens Stoltenberg pointed out how alliance members had begun to increase its presence in the air, on land and at sea. Now, for the first time, Nato has activated its rapid-reaction response force (NRF), comprising 40,000 troops, including from non-alliance countries such as Finland and Sweden.
France takes the lead of NATO’s highest-readiness military force on 1 January 2022 for one year. The Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF) was created in 2014 in response to crises in the Middle East and Russia’s aggression against Ukraine and is permanently available to move within days to defend any Ally. The Franco-German brigade of 3,500 troops will serve as the core of the force, drawing on the 1st Infantry Regiment and the 3rd Hussar Regiment. Led by France’s Rapid Reaction Corps in Lille, the Franco-German brigade is a bi-national unit, underlining the strong bond between NATO Allies Germany and France. Other NATO countries, including Spain, Portugal, and Poland will also provide forces.