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NATO Announces 'Rapid-Reaction Force' Amid News Of Ukraine Cease-Fire Deal

(This post was last updated at 8:04 a.m. ET.)

On the second and final day of their meeting in Wales, members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization are expected to announce more aid to Ukraine.

NATO also announced the formation of a so-called rapid-reaction force. As The Associated Press describes it, this consists of "several thousand troops in Eastern Europe that could quickly mobilize if an alliance country in the region comes under attack."

As he announced the deployment NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen issued a warning: "Should you even think of attacking one ally, you will be facing the whole alliance."

NPR's Ari Shapiro tells our Newscast unit that the allies are also discussing the Islamic State. Ari filed this report for our Newscast unit:

"Yesterday this summit focused on diagnosing the challenges facing NATO, while today is focused on solutions.

"That means we're likely to see more specific commitments emerge today on how NATO plans to counter Russia, and the Islamic State.

"British Prime Minister David Cameron is the summit host.

" 'To the east, Russia is ripping up the rulebook with its annexation of Crimea and its troops on sovereign soil in Ukraine,' Cameron said. 'To the south, an arc of instability bends from North Africa to the Middle East.' "

On Ukraine, NATO is also watching a proposed cease-fire very closely. As The Guardian reports, Ukraine's President Petro Poroshenko said today that he had come to an agreement with a major rebel leader to freeze troops at midday Friday. That's one part of the seven-point peace plan outlined by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The Guardian adds:

"At a press conference with the Nato secretary general Anders Fogh Rasmussen, Poroshenko said he hoped the ceasefire would happen, but he remained suspicious because Putin had proposed it.

"Rasmussen said he had seen similar moves before by Russia that had been smokescreens, but he would welcome a serious political settlement.

"Poroshenko said that provided a peace meeting in Minsk planned for Friday between Russia, Ukraine and the European security organisation the OSCE goes ahead as planned, he would call a halt to Ukrainian military attempts to regain territory held by the separatists. 'I will call on the general staff to set up a bilateral ceasefire,' he said."

Russia Today reports that representatives from the People's Republics of Donetsk and Lugansk — in other words, the Russian-backed separatists — have arrived at Minsk for the talks.

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Eyder Peralta is NPR's East Africa correspondent based in Nairobi, Kenya.
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