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NATO Chief Visits Site of Future Facility in Romania

Romanian military personnel stand in formation during a speech by NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg at the site of the first NATO Force Integration Unit in Bucharest, Romania, July 2, 2015.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Thursday the alliance sees no "immediate threats" even as the alliance builds up its defenses to reassure members that are geographically closer to Russia.

"We are seeing a more assertive Russia that is trying to intimidate neighbors by changing borders by force," Stoltenberg said during a visit to Bucharest where he inspected a site where the alliance will open a facility in reaction to the crisis in Ukraine.

"This small headquarters is part of a big plan," he said after planting a fir tree which he said symbolized the alliance's roots in Romania. "It is the biggest reinforcement of NATO's collective defense since the end of the Cold War."

The NATO Force Integration Unit is similar to ones that will be built in Poland, Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. Romania, which joined the alliance in 2004, will also have a multinational division headquarters also in Bucharest which will be coordinate NATO activity in Romania and Bulgaria.

"NATO does not seek confrontation with anyone," he said. "But we want to keep our members safe in the east and the south."

He added that "we didn't see any immediate threats against our neighbor allies."

He said the 28-member alliance was boosting readiness and speed as it faces "a pattern of aggressive Russian acts in the east and ... turmoil and extremism in the south."

"NATO must fundamentally adapt," he said in comments at the facility, flanked by Romania's President Klaus Iohannis, acting Prime Minister Gabriel Oprea and Defense Minister Mircea Dusa.

NATO says the six small headquarters will be ready by the end of the year, each with a staff of about 40 people who participate in exercises and can facilitate rapid deployment of forces.

The facility was refurbished in two months and cost about $4 million, paid for by NATO and Romania, Romanian officials said.