An extraordinary meeting of NATO defense ministers is being held in Brussels on Wednesday. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the impact on regional security in eastern Europe will be the key focus. The special meeting of 30 NATO defense ministers includes United States Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said ahead of talks that “the brutal invasion of Ukraine by Russia” would be addressed. “This is devastating for the Ukrainian people and it will also change our security environment. It will have long-lasting consequences for our security, for all NATO allies,” Stoltenberg said. The NATO chief said the alliance was reinforcing its collective defense, adding that “hundreds of thousands of troops were on heightened alert.”

One-hundred-thousand US troops are in Europe, according to Stoltenberg, with 40,000 under direct NATO command. Stoltenberg said that both the immediate and long-term consequences of Russia’s actions would be spoken about, with emphasis on strengthening the defense of all NATO members. The secretary-general stressed that NATO had a responsibility to ensure the “crisis” didn’t escalate beyond the borders of Ukraine, which explains bolstered troop numbers along the eastern flank of the alliance. Next week, an extraordinary summit of NATO leaders is due to be held.

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