MOSCOW, October 6 (RIA Novosti) - NATO will make a decision regarding its so-called "spearhead" rapid reaction force next year, but even before that the alliance still can deploy its troops wherever it wants, new NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said in an interview to Polish broadcaster TVP Info.
"Next year, at the ministerial meeting, we will take decisions regarding the so-called spearhead but, even before it is established, NATO has a strong army after all. We can deploy it wherever we want to," Stoltenberg claimed Sunday.
Poland was Stoltenberg's first state to visit as the new NATO chief. He came to Warsaw in order to reassure the country that the alliance is ready to provide thorough protection for its member states.
As the Ukrainian conflict escalated, Poland has repeatedly asked NATO to permanently station troops in the country, but the alliance has refused to do so, apparently not ready to break a pact signed back in 1997 when it promised Russia not to permanently station its troops in the east.
In September, during a summit in Wales, NATO members agreed to set up a "spearhead" force enabling the alliance to protect its member states by sending troops there within days or even hours if needed.
Relations between Russia and NATO have deteriorated amid the crisis in Ukraine. The alliance has repeatedly accused Russia of meddling in Ukraine's internal affairs, sending troops to Ukraine, and went as far as to claim that Moscow planned to invade Ukraine. However, none of these statements were supported with any evidence.
On April 1, NATO ended its cooperation with Russia, only maintaining contacts at the ambassadorial and higher levels.
Following Crimea's reunification with Russia in March 2014, NATO has boosted its military presence close to Russia's border, specifically in Poland and the former Soviet Baltic states of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia.
Russia has repeatedly expressed concern over NATO's increased military presence in the country's neighboring states.