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Nato, the intergovernmental military alliance, has deployed troops in Romania in response to the worsening Ukraine crisis.

This is the first time that Nato has activated the Nato Response Force as a collective defensive measure.

According to a statement, Nato Response Force units reached Romania to strengthen the defensive posture in the eastern part of the alliance. The deployment includes approximately 500 French troops.

Nato secretary general Jens Stoltenberg said: “Over the last weeks, we have increased our presence in the eastern part of the Alliance and now we are, for the first time in our history, deploying the Nato Response Force.

“French troops have arrived in Romania as the lead element of this force. Our commitment to Article five, our collective defence clause, is iron-clad. We will protect and defend every inch of Nato territory.”

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The response force is a multinational unit that includes up to 40,000 land, air, maritime, and special operations personnel.

Nato can deploy the unit on a short notice at times of crisis. France is the largest contributor to this year’s highest-readiness element of the Nato Response Force.

Several Nato countries are also sending weapons and munition to Ukraine, after Russia launched a military operation on the country.

Spanish Defence Minister Margarita Robles said that a shipment of offensive weapons and ammunition are scheduled to reach Ukraine this week.

In an interview with Antena3 television, the minister said that the consignment is expected to include 1,370 anti-tank grenade launchers, 700,000 rifles and machine-gun rounds, and light machine guns.

The announcement came after Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez told parliament that it will send weapons directly to Ukraine, instead of supplying them through a European Union joint supply programme, reported Reuters.