April 22 - NATO deploys ships in the Baltic Sea in response to the crisis in Ukraine as U.S. pledges to send 600 troops to region. Deborah Lutterbeck reports.
NATO prepares to send a message. On Tuesday it sent part of its naval rapid reaction force to the Baltic Sea as part of a drive to step up the defense of eastern European allies in response to the crisis in Ukraine. NATO has made clear it does not plan to get involved militarily in Ukraine -- which is not a NATO member. But last week it announced plans to send more ships, planes and troops to eastern Europe to reassure members of the alliance. Commodore Arian Minderhoud: (SOUNDBITE) (English) NATO ALLIED MARITIME COMMAND DEPUTY CHIEF OF STAFF FOR OPERATIONS, COMMODORE ARIAN MINDERHOUD, SAYING: "I think it is very important that we deploy this group into the Baltic and I think it's been explained at a different level as well, what the ultimate aim of this deployment is, to show the reassurance to the Baltic states, to show NATO's resolve and to show preparedness we have in NATO to react and act as required." It's not just NATO sending a message. On Tuesday Rear Admiral John Kirby said the U.S. would deploy 600 troops to the Baltics. (SOUNDBITE) (English) REAR ADMIRAL JOHN KIRBY, PENTAGON SPOKESMAN SAYING: "If there's a message for Moscow it is the same exact message that we take our obligations very, very seriously on the continent of Europe." The ships, which departed from the German port of Kiel, will visit Baltic ports and take part in a previously scheduled exercise next month to hunt for mines and torpedoes from both world wars.