Lithuania's Defence Minister Juozas Olekas and his counterparts from Estonia, Denmark, the Netherlands, Latvia, Norway and the UK signed a protocol of intentions for establishing the Joint Expeditionary Force (JEF) at a ceremony during the NATO summit in Wales on Thursday, the Ministry of National Defence said.
NATO summit in Wales
© AFP/Scanpix

"This is a substantial step of seven NATO member states seeking to ensure that Lithuania and Europe are secure as a response to the Ukraine crisis," the Lithuanian minister said after signing the document.

The division-sized (at least 10,000 personnel) force to be formed on the basis of the document will be capable of rapid deployment in any region necessary in response to security crises of any nature, and will attend regular exercises, including in the Baltic region. The force will be applicable for Article 5 (collective defence) operations, i.e., in case of aggression against any NATO member state.

The force will incorporate air, naval units and ground troops of the signatory nations commanded from a headquarters based in the United Kingdom. The participating countries will assign JEF officers and specialist troops and units.

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