Nato is set to dispatch forces to new eastern European bases in response to the ongoing Ukraine crisis, and to counter the threat posed by Russia to post-Soviet states.
The military alliance's secretary-general, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, said that the organisation's summit next week would work towards an agreement on more troops being deployed to Russia's border – a controversial move.
He also said that the alliance would help to boost Ukraine's security in light of the threat from Russia and "modernise" its military.
"We will adopt what we call a readiness action plan with the aim to be able to act swiftly in this completely new security environment in Europe," he said.
"We have something already called the Nato Response Force, whose purpose is to be able to be deployed rapidly if needed. Now it's our intention to develop what I would call a 'spearhead' within that Response Force at very, very high readiness.
"In order to be able to provide such rapid reinforcements you also need some reception facilities in host nations. So it will involve the pre-positioning of supplies, of equipment, preparation of infrastructure, bases, headquarters. The bottom line is you will in the future see a more visible Nato presence in the east."
New Nato bases create discord
The prospect of permanent bases near the Russian border has left Nato members at odds with one another. France, Italy and Spain are opposed to Poland and the Baltic states' calls for a firmer Nato presence in eastern Europe, while Britain and the US are supportive.
A Nato official confirmed that Germany was undecided over such a move due to caution over angering Russia.
"It can be on a rotation basis, with a very high frequency. The point is that any potential aggressor should know that if they were to even think of an attack against a Nato ally they will meet not only soldiers from that specific country, but they will meet Nato troops. This is what is important," said Rasmussen.
The only Nato headquarters east of the former Iron Curtain is at Szczecin, on the Baltic coast of Poland, where any deployment is likely to be focused.
Rasmussen confirmed that deployments could take place within hours and that the concerns of eastern European Nato members would be eased when they saw the alliance's plans.
"To prevent misunderstanding I use the phrase 'for as long as necessary'. Our eastern allies will be satisfied when they see what is actually in the readiness action plan."
The massing of thousands of Russian troops on Ukraine's border and reports of Russian incursions into Ukraine have put a spotlight on Moscow's intentions towards the post-Soviet states bordering Nato member nations.
UN agencies estimate that more than 2,000 people have been killed in the fighting between pro-Russian separatists and the Ukrainian military since April.