Aug. 29 (UPI) -- NATO's four multi-national battlegroups in the Baltics and Poland are now fully operational following a certification exercise of a Canadian-led battlegroup.
NATO said Monday that the Canadian-led battlegroup is based in Latvia and operates from contributions from Albania, Italy, Poland, Slovenia and Spain.
NATO leaders last year decided to enhance its presence in the alliance's eastern zone as part of a response to Russia's unilateral annexation of Crimea from Ukraine and its military build-up in the Baltic region and beyond.
The presence of the battlegroups in Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia and Poland underlines NATO's philosophy to Russia that an attack against one NATO country is an attack on all, NATO said.
The battlegroups number a total of 4,500 deployed troops. The group in Lithuania is lead by Germany, with participation by Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Norway. Britain leads the battlegroup in Estonia with the participation of France, while the United States leads the group in Poland, with contributions by Romania and Britain.
NATO said it is also strengthening its multinational presence in the Black Sea region.
Its alliance-wide Response Force, used for quick deployments, has also tripled in size to 40,000 troops and established eight small headquarter units for training and reinforcements, NATO said.