LUXEMBOURG -- Due to the great uncertainty about what Russia may do next, NATO's secretary general on Tuesday said the U.S.-led alliance and the European Union must cooperate more in the military realm.
Anders Fogh Rasmussen came to Luxembourg to brief EU defense ministers on what NATO is doing to counteract what Western countries have denounced as a Russian campaign of pressure and intimidation against Ukraine.
Rasmussen said NATO plans a three-fold response: "reinforced defense plans, enhanced exercises and appropriate deployment" to reassure NATO member states nearest Russia that the alliance has their back.
Asked by reporters if NATO could create military bases in its Eastern European members, Rasmussen said it was too early to go into details.
"But no one should doubt our determination to ensure effective defense protection of all allies," he said.
Many NATO members in Europe, including Britain, Germany and France, also belong to the 28-member European Union, but other members of the trade bloc are not part of NATO. Rasmussen said he would be pressing EU defense ministers for "strengthened cooperation."
"We need to train and exercise more together, for instance the NATO Response Force and the EU battle groups, so that we stand ready for whatever the future may bring," Rasmussen told journalists.
Non-NATO members in the planned battle groups include Finland, Sweden, Ireland, Austria and Cyprus.
The situation in Ukraine, and what the EU should do about it, dominated the Monday meeting of the trade bloc's foreign ministers held in Luxembourg. Rasmussen said "Russia's hand" is clearly visible in Ukraine.
"Russia should stop being part of the problem and start being part of the solution," Rasmussen said.