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NATO Announces Plans for Improved Defenses in Eastern Europe

NATO announced on Tuesday it would prepare plans for bolstering defenses in Eastern Europe in response to concerns about possible Russian incursions.

The decision to order new military defense plans came out of a foreign minister-level meeting in Brussels of the 28-member Western alliance, Reuters reported. The new plans could involve deploying more allied troops and military machinery to the territory of Eastern European members and the staging of additional drills. The alliance also announced a halt to joint activities with Russia.

Moscow's actions in Ukraine necessitate a response from NATO, outgoing alliance Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said to reporters. "So today, we are suspending all practical cooperation with Russia, military and civilian."

Early last month, NATO halted talks with Russia on providing joint protection services to a U.S. ship that will destroy Syrian chemical weapons.

Romanian President Traian Basaescu said Washington had sought permission for augmenting the number of U.S. military personnel and airplanes deployed in Romania, which shares a border with Ukraine, according to Reuters.

Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk on Tuesday said the alliance was not moving fast enough to boost its military footprint in his country, Reuters separately reported.

"We are gaining something step by step, but the pace of NATO increasing its military presence for sure could be faster. You remember the endless debates about the missile shield, with mediocre results," Tusk said to reporters in Warsaw.

He was apparently referring to the Obama administration's decision in 2009 to scrap a plan by the Bush White House to field 10 long-range missile interceptors in Poland. Though the United States is planning on fielding a different kind of interceptor in the country, the weapons are not slated to arrive until 2018, at the earliest, compared to 2011 when interceptors would have been deployed under the Bush plan.

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    On Friday, March 14, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov meet to discuss the crisis in Ukraine. Five statesmen from Germany, Poland, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States call for the urgent formation of a Contact Group of Foreign Ministers to address the crisis and more broadly, create a new approach to building mutual security in the Euro-Atlantic region.

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