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NATO Due To Set Up Command Centers

The NATO flag

NATO defense ministers are due to expand the alliance's presence in Eastern Europe by setting up a network of small command centers that could rapidly reinforce the region in the event of any threat from Russia.

At their meeting in Brussels on February 5, ministers will also decide on the makeup of a new rapid reaction force and agree to expand a corps-level headquarters in western Poland as part of a plan to bolster NATO's eastern flank in response to Russia's annexation of Ukraine's Crimea.

The U.S. ambassador to NATO, Douglas Lute, said NATO flags would fly over the Polish headquarters and the six command centers in Poland, Romania, Bulgaria, and the three Baltic states, where the alliance has had little presence until now.

"These will be the first seven NATO flags in Eastern Europe," he told a news conference in Brussels on February 4.

Based on reporting by Reuters and AP