NATO defence ministers have agreed on stationing four international battalions in the Baltic States and Poland in a show of support for uneasy members.

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"NATO will deploy four rotated strong international battalions in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland," NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said on Tuesday in Brussels.

This was a signal that the Alliance would respond as one in case of an attack on any of its members, he added.

BNS reports, quoting high-ranking NATO officials, that the troops will come to the Baltic states in 2017.

Two NATO member states, the United Kingdom and Germany, said on Tuesday that their troops will lead two of the four battalions, each consisting of between 500 and 1,000 soldiers.

German Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen confirmed earlier on Tuesday that German troops will form the core of one of the battalions, even though she did not specify where they will be deployed. Lithuanian politicians had earlier said that German troops would be sent to Lithuania.

Britain's Defence Secretary Michael Fallon also told reporters in Brussels that UK troops would lead one of the four battalions. BNS reports that the British soldiers are most likely to be sent to Estonia.

Canada may be leading one more NATO battalion in the Baltic States and Poland.

The Canadian representation to NATO has said to BNS that the country is "is actively considering" options to contribute to NATO's deterrence measures in its eastern member states.

'Historic decision'

NATO's decision to station four international Allied battalions in the Baltic states and Poland is historic, says Lithuania's Defence Minister Juozas Olekas.

"I believe that it is truly a historic decision, which will, of course, be finalized in Warsaw," Olekas told Brussels journalists on Tuesday after a meeting of the Alliance's defence ministers.

"This is real combat support, land-based support, which can indeed perform the functions of contingency and deterrence," he added.

The minister emphasized that the Alliance's actions "indeed halt Russia's attempts to act in our region".

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