Nato members put forces on standby to counter Russia threat to Ukraine

Nato said its members were putting military forces on standby and sending additional ships and fighter jets to allied countries in eastern Europe, in response to rising fears of a potential Russian attack on Ukraine.

Russia has deployed more than 106,000 troops close to its border with Ukraine in recent months, sparking fears of a fresh invasion of the country. Moscow has denied plans of an attack.

“I welcome Allies contributing additional forces to Nato,” said Jens Stoltenberg, the alliance’s secretary-general. “Nato will continue to take all necessary measures to protect and defend all allies, including by reinforcing the eastern part of the alliance.

“We will always respond to any deterioration of our security environment, including through strengthening our collective defence,” he added.

Nato’s statement on Monday came as several western countries said they had taken steps to evacuate families of diplomats based in Kyiv out of the country.

Britain on Monday ordered a number of its embassy staff and family members to leave Ukraine. The move came after the US on Sunday ordered family members of its embassy staff to leave Kyiv because of the risk of “significant military action” by Russia. The US and UK said their embassies would remain open.

Ukraine is not a member of Nato, but western officials have warned that any conflict could affect neighbours to the west.

Nato said examples of the alliance strengthening include already announced moves such as Denmark sending a frigate to the Baltic Sea and France’s readiness to send troops to Romania.

Spain has sent the frigate Blas de Lezo from Ferrol on its Atlantic coast to the Black Sea several weeks ahead of schedule, for which Stoltenberg thanked Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez at the weekend.

Spain’s foreign minister José Manuel Albares told the FT that such deployments “showed Spain’s commitment to the security of Europe, whether the eastern or southern flank”.

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