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LONDON: Nato told its military commanders on Wednesday to draw up plans for new combat units in central and southeastern Europe, as it accused Russia of sending more troops to areas near Ukraine instead of withdrawing its forces. The combat units, or ‘battlegroups’, could be set up in Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary and Slovakia, diplomats said, in what would be the biggest shift in Nato’s military posture since it moved troops to the Baltics and Poland following Russia’s annexation of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014.
Defence ministers in Brussels “decided to develop options to further strengthen Nato’s deterrence and defence,” secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg said. US defence secretary Lloyd Austin and his counterparts also plan to weigh the possibility of stationing troops longer-term in southeast Europe, possibly starting later this year. The US has started to deploy 5,000 troops to Poland and Romania. The UK said it will double the size of the British force in Estonia.



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