WARSAW

Poland urged NATO to bolster its forces on Europe’s eastern flank after Russia launched a long-feared military intervention in Ukraine on Thursday.

“Now is the time to reinforce NATO’s eastern flank. We expect such decisions to be taken,” said government spokesman Piotr Muller.

He said Poland will keep its diplomatic missions in Ukraine open “for as long as possible.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin announced a military intervention in Ukraine early Thursday, just days after recognizing two separatist-held enclaves in eastern Ukraine, drawing widespread international condemnation and announcements of tougher sanctions on Moscow.

NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg strongly condemned Russia’s “reckless and unprovoked attack on Ukraine” and announced that “NATO Allies will meet to address the consequences of Russia’s aggressive actions.”

“We stand with the people of Ukraine at this terrible time. NATO will do all it takes to protect and defend all Allies,” he said in a statement on Thursday.

Earlier this week Stoltenberg said NATO members “have deployed thousands of more troops to the eastern part of the Alliance and placed more on standby.”

“We have over 100 jets at high alert and there are more than 120 Allied ships at sea, from the High North to the Mediterranean,” he said.

*Writing by Gozde Bayar

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