Kyiv — After three days of fighting,continues to push back against Russia's unrelenting . The United Nations said Saturday that it had confirmed at least 240 civilian causalities.
Oksana Markarova, Ukraine's ambassador to the U.S., told reporters Saturday that Ukrainian forces have destroyed 102 Russian tanks, 14 fighter jets, 11 helicopters, 15 artillery pieces and 536 armored vehicles.
"We are defending our homes, we are defending our families, we are defending democracy, we are defending our choice to be sovereign, but we are also defending Europe," the ambassador said.
CBS News' Christina Ruffini reported Saturday that for the first time since Russia's attack began Thursday, people were lined up at a crossing station on the Ukraine-Poland border trying to get back into Ukraine. Many of them were military-aged men who wanted to return to join the fight. However, tens of thousands of Ukrainians are still fleeing their country, prompting fears of a possible refugee crisis.
Meanwhile, dozens of residents still in the capital of Kyiv wereas Russian forces launched coordinated artillery and missile attacks on key sites in the city. Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky had warned Friday night that the city could fall to the Russians overnight. Instead, fighting broke out in the streets of Kyiv as Ukrainians stood up to defend their country.
Entertainers and companies condemn Russia's actions
Russian forces destroy gas pipeline in Kharkiv
The Ukrainian president's office said Russian forces blew up a gas pipeline in Kharkiv, the country's second-largest city.
The State Service of Special Communication and Information Protection warned that the explosion, which it said looked like a mushroom cloud, could cause an "environmental catastrophe" and advised residents to cover their windows with damp cloth or gauze and to drink plenty of fluids.
Ukraine's top prosecutor, Iryna Venediktova, said the Russian forces have been unable to take Kharkiv, where a fierce battle is underway.
The city of 1.5 million is located 40 kilometers (25 miles) from the Russian border.
U.S. diplomat says local staffers at U.S. embassy in Ukraine left behind
The U.S. has evacuated American staff members from its embassy in Ukraine, but as many as 600 local personnel were given no guidance as to what they should do in the lead up to the Russian invasion, one U.S. diplomat told CBS News. Staff were even warned that they would not get paid if they lift Kyiv, the diplomat said.
In an interview with CBS News' Lana Zak, President of the American Foreign Service Association and former ambassador to Bulgaria Eric Rubin said locals who worked at the U.S. embassy could be in danger should Kyiv fall to Russian forces.
"What we're hearing from both our American colleagues who have left Ukraine and from our more than 600 Ukrainian colleagues … is there was no information when it was decided that the American employees would leave," Rubin said. "They left with very little notice. They shut down the embassy, they welded the doors shut, and our local employees did not have information about what to do and where to go, if anywhere, would they be paid, and how they were going to be protected."
Rubin said all this happened "several weeks ago" and there still hasn't been any support given to the local embassy employees who may wish to leave Kyiv.
The U.S. State Department told CBS News it is "exploring all legal options" to assist the remaining employees. The department also said that special immigrant visas are available, but it was not clear how many embassy employees would qualify for them.
Rubin called the measures "good," but noted they should have been implemented before the invasion began.
"Pretty much no one can leave Kyiv now," he said. "So, if you're in Kyiv, you're stuck there because the city is surrounded. You can't drive out anymore. There are no flights. There are no trains."
Rubin noted that the U.S. doesn't have any legal obligations to help the local staffers to leave, but said there is a moral one.
Thousands of Ukrainians flee to neighboring countries as Russia ramps up invasion
Russian vodka taken off some U.S. and Canadian shelves in support of Ukraine
Ohio Governor Mike DeWine and New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu on Saturday directed state agencies to stop selling Russian-made vodka throughout the state. The orders come as bars around the country and officials in Canada have taken similar measures to support Ukraine.
DeWine on Saturday said he had directed the state chamber of commerce to "cease both the purchase and sale" of vodka made by Russian Standard — the only overseas Russian-owned distillery that sells vodka in Ohio, according to the governor. The distillery has approximately 6,400 bottles for sale in the state across 487 liquor agencies, the governor said.
Earlier Saturday, Sununu signed an executive order directing New Hampshire liquor and wine outlets to remove any spirits made in Russia and with Russian branding from its shelves until further notice.
"New Hampshire stands with the people of Ukraine in their fight for freedom," Sununu said Saturday on Twitter.
Virginia state Senator Louise Lucas called on Governor Glenn Youngkin to enact similar orders.
"We need to take strong actions to support Ukraine, so I am calling on @GovernorVA to order the removal of all Russian Vodka and any other Russian products from our ABC stores immediately," she wrote on Twitter Saturday.
More than 350,000 children don't have access to education in Ukraine, report finds
The affects of Russia's attack on Ukraine trickle down to Ukraine's youngest residents. The invasion has left more than 350,000 school children without access to education, a new report from UNICEF finds.
The organization is calling for donations to help fund humanitarian assistance in the region.
"The direct and indirect effect of the protracted conflict in eastern Ukraine continues to significantly impact the lives of children and young people. Leaving families on both sides of the contact line in urgent need of sustained humanitarian assistance," UNICEF said.
Read the full story.
198 Ukrainians killed, over 1,000 injured since attack began, Ukrainian ambassador says
Oksana Markarova, Ukraine's ambassador to the U.S., accused Russia of committing crimes against humanity in a speech at the Ukrainian embassy in Washington, D.C., on Saturday. She said 198 Ukrainians have died, including three children, and 1,115 have been injured since Russia began attacking the country.
"Ukrainians are fighting with everything for our homes, and the support that we need is yesterday," she said, calling for world leaders to impose "severe financial sanctions" on Russia and disconnect them from "the majority of the civilized world."
Since fighting began, Ukrainian forces have destroyed 102 Russian tanks, 14 fighter jets, 11 helicopters, 15 artillery pieces and 536 armored vehicles, according to Markarova.
"We are defending our homes, we are defending our families, we are defending democracy, we are defending our choice to be sovereign, but we are also defending Europe," the ambassador said.
Markarova added that, according to reports obtained by the Security Service of Ukraine, the Russians are handing out gas masks to local militants and the Russian military in Donetsk. "We are making this information public to warn that there might be a possibility of provocation," she said.
A Ukrainian general also spoke Saturday, saying that Ukraine is following the Geneva Conventions in defending itself. He said Ukraine's forces have captured around 200 Russian soldiers, who he described as not trained, badly equipped and as young as 19.
Aid groups arriving at Poland-Ukraine border to help
Aid groups have flocked to the Medyka border crossing in Poland to greet and help Ukrainians arriving in the country, CBS News' Christina Ruffini reported on Saturday. The previous day, there had only been one woman handing out tea.
In a video posted on Twitter, Ruffini said the footbridge crossing was much busier on Saturday than previous days. Aid groups handed out jugs of water and clothing, and bathrooms had been installed near the border.
"It's kind of amazing how quickly this all has mobilized in the last 12 hours," she said.
Also, on Saturday, there was not only a line of people arriving from Ukraine, but a line of people trying to get into Ukraine. Ruffini reported that some wanted to get family members and military-aged men were trying to go back to fight.
Kyiv residents remain in underground metro stations on third day of Russian attack
On the third day of Russia's attack on Ukraine, about 100 people were sheltering in the deepest subway station in Kyiv. They had either gone to the station voluntarily, or gotten stuck there when trains were stopped because of air raids.
Angelina, who moved into the station with her mother and dog on Friday, said that she was originally from Crimea, a part of Ukraine that was annexed by Russia in 2014. She said her family had moved to Kyiv to escape the Russians during that invasion.
"I know that it will be different. I believe in this," she told CBS News when how she felt about experiencing a Russian invasion for the second time in her life.
Read the full story.
American business owners warned to be on the alert for Russian cyberattacks
In the leadup to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, there were concerns about widespread Russian cyberattacks.
Chris Krebs, the former director of the Department of Homeland Security's Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), said Saturday those threats may soon be directed at the United States and other Western allies who have issued sanctions against Russia.
"What I would expect is as sanctions and other lethal aid support increases to Ukraine, you may see ransomware attacks, like the Conti group has indicated yesterday," Krebs told "CBS Saturday Morning," referring to a Russia-based cybercrime group that vowed retaliation Friday for any cyberattack against Russia.
He said if there are increased attacks in Ukraine, operational control errors could allow malware and other destructive activity to "jump the rails" and impact other countries.
"So, every business leader here in the U.S. needs to be prepared," he said. "This is not business as usual."
The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency has issued a "SHIELDS UP" advisory warning Americans to be prepared in case of ransomware attacks.
"So the idea is be prepared, don't panic," Krebs said.
Russia mounts sophisticated disinformation campaign as it invades
In 2014, Russia flooded the internet with fake accounts pushing disinformation about its takeover of Crimea. Eight years later, experts say Russia is mounting a far more sophisticated effort as it invades Ukraine.
Armies of trolls and bots stir up anti-Ukrainian sentiment. State-controlled media outlets look to divide Western audiences. Clever TikTok videos serve up Russian nationalism with a side of humor – all part of Russia's war arsenal, alongside actual troops and weapons.
Analysts at several different research organizations contacted by The Associated Press said they are seeing a sharp increase in online activity by groups affiliated with the Russian state. At the same time, there's been a rapid uptick across the internet in suspicious accounts spreading anti-Ukrainian content, according to a report from Cyabra, an Israeli tech company that works to detect disinformation.
The work has been underway for some time. Researchers at the Atlantic Council's Digital Forensic Research Lab analyzed 3,000 articles by 10 state-owned Russian news outlets and noticed a big increase in unfounded claims that Ukraine was poised to strike separatist groups. Overall, Russian media claims of Ukrainian aggression surged by 50% in January, according to the research.
Read the full story.
Malware targeting Ukrainian organizations could affect other countries, CISA warns
In the days and weeks before Russia attacked Ukraine, "threat actors deployed destructive malware against organizations in Ukraine to destroy computer systems and render them inoperable," the U.S. Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) said on Saturday. And it warned that such attacks are likely to continue, possibly affecting organizations in other countries.
On January 15, the Microsoft Threat Intelligence Center reported that malware known as WhisperGate was deployed against Ukrainian organizations. On February 23, cybersecurity researchers said malware called HermeticWiper was being used for similar purposes.
The CISA said these malware attacks — which threaten to disrupt an organization's daily operations — are likely to continue and could "unintentionally spill over to organizations in other countries." It advised organizations to assess their security and prepare for possible attacks.
For more information on how to protect yourself against such attacks, view the CISA bulletin here.
Kirby: U.S. security assistance to Ukraine totals $1 billion over past year
Pentagon press secretary John Kirby said Saturday the $350 million in U.S. military aid to Ukraine that President Biden authorized on Friday brings the total security assistance approved for Ukraine to $1 billion over the past year.
"And, as I have said before, the U.S. is not supporting Ukraine alone," Kirby said. "Many other countries are contributing to Ukraine's ability to defend itself from the unprovoked Russian aggression."
"We, along with our Allies and partners, are standing together to continue to expedite security assistance to Ukraine, and are employing all available security cooperation tools in support of the Ukrainian people as they defend themselves against Russian aggression."
The $350 million includes body armor, munitions and other equipment.
Russian official issues stark threats to the West
Moscow may respond to Western sanctions by opting out of the last nuclear arms deal with the U.S., cutting diplomatic ties with Western nations and freezing their assets, a senior Russian official warned Saturday.
Dmitry Medvedev, the deputy head of Russia's Security Council chaired by President Vladimir Putin, also warned that Moscow could restore the death penalty after Russia was removed from Europe's top rights group.
The sanctions placed new tight restrictions on Russian financial operations, imposed a draconian ban on technology exports to Russia and froze the assets of Putin and his foreign minister. Washington and its allies say that even tougher sanctions are possible, including kicking Russia out of SWIFT, the dominant system for global financial transactions.
In sarcastic comments posted on a Russian social platform, Medvedev dismissed the sanctions as a show of Western "political impotence" that will only consolidate the Russian leadership and foment anti-Western feelings.
"We are being driven out of everywhere, punished and threatened, but we don't feel scared," he said, mocking the sanctions imposed by the U.S. and its allies as an attempt to vindicate their past "shameful decisions, like a cowardly retreat from Afghanistan."
Finland, Sweden brush off Moscow's warning on joining NATO
Finland and Sweden have brushed off warnings from neighboring Russia that their possible joining of NATO would trigger "serious military-political consequences" from Moscow for the two countries.
A statement from the Russian Foreign Ministry Friday voiced concern about what it described as efforts by the United States and some of its allies to "drag" Finland and Sweden into NATO and warned that Moscow would be forced to take retaliatory measures if they join the alliance.
Finnish Foreign Minister Pekka Haavisto said Saturday that "we've heard this before."
"We don't think that it calls for a military threat," Haavisto said in an interview with the Finnish public broadcaster YLE. "Should Finland be NATO's external border, it rather means that Russia would certainly take that into account in its own defense planning. I don't see anything new as such" in the statement delivered by Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova, Haavisto said.
Haavisto's words were echoed by the Finnish President Sauli Niinisto who said on Friday that he didn't see the statement meaning Moscow was threatening Finland militarily but rather what kind of "countersteps" Russia would take should Finland join NATO.
Prince William and Duchess Kate stand with "all of Ukraine's people"
Prince William and Kate, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, said in a tweet Saturday that they stand with the president of Ukraine and all of Ukraine's people.
"In October 2020 we had the privilege to meet President Zelenskyy and the First Lady to learn of their hope and optimism for Ukraine's future," they said.
"Today we stand with the President and all of Ukraine's people as they bravely fight for that future."
Thousands flee Ukraine for Poland, Moldova, other countries
Countries bordering Ukraine have seen an influx of people driven from their homes. More than 120,000 Ukrainians have left the country for Poland, Moldova and other neighboring nations, according to U.N. officials.
The U.N. refugee agency says it has seen incredible hospitality and solidary from governments and local communities as families open their homes and share their food. The U.N. estimates that up to 4 million could flee if the fighting escalates.
Refugees arriving in the Hungarian border town of Zahony said men of fighting age were not being allowed to leave Ukraine.
"My son was not allowed to come. My heart is so sore, I'm shaking, I can't calm down, they did not let him come," said Vilma Sugar, 68.
People are also on the move within Ukraine, where the U.N. refugee agency says it has more than 115 staff.
Many Kyiv residents spent another night in basements, underground parking garages and subway stations, heeding the warnings of city officials.
"We're all scared and worried. We don't know what to do then, what's going to happen in a few days," said Lucy Vashaka, 20, a worker at a small Kyiv hotel.
Stricter curfew ordered for Kyiv
The mayor of the Ukrainian capital is imposing an intensified curfew as Russian troops press on the city.
Mayor Vitaly Klitschko said on Telegram that the curfew will extend from 5 p.m. until 8 a.m. and "all civilians on the street during the curfew will be considered members of the enemy's sabotage and reconnaissance groups."
The previous curfew imposed two days ago was from 10 p.m. until 7 a.m.
Ukrainian lawmaker posts photo, says "mothers are now giving birth in shelters" amid Russian strikes in Kyiv
Ukrainian lawmaker Anastasia Radina called on Friday for Western military powers to enforce a no-fly zone in her nation's airspace to ease Russia's artillery bombardment.
Radina issued the call in a tweet that included a photo of a woman giving birth, saying: "Ukrainian mothers are now giving birth in shelters and metro stations during air raids. The Blitz of London 1940 is being repeated by Russia in Ukraine in 2022."
"NATO must make UA [Ukraine] no fly zone," she said.
NATO's deployment of thousands of troops in neighboring nations continues to grow, but none of the members states have sent troops into Ukraine, which is not a NATO member, to back up its forces. The U.S. and some of its European allies have sent millions of dollars worth of weapons and other equipment into Ukraine, in addition to providing training and other support.
France intercepts cargo ship suspected of link to "Russian interests targeted by sanctions"
French naval forces have intercepted in the English Channel a cargo vessel loaded with cars heading for the Baltic port city of Saint Petersburg after the EU slapped, officials said Saturday. The Russian-flagged Baltic Leader, which had set sail from the French city of Rouen, was escorted to the port of Boulogne-sur-Mer by French forces, the maritime prefecture told AFP.
It is suspected of belonging to a company targeted by the sanctions.
A French customs patrol vessel backed by a police surveillance ship and a navy patrol boat stopped the Baltic Leader, said Veronique Magnin of the regional prefecture.
The 417-foot vessel is "strongly suspected of being linked to Russian interests targeted by sanctions," she said, adding that while such a measure was "rare" it is "a sign of "firmness."
The move comes after the European Union on Thursday adopted unprecedented sanctions against Russian individuals, companies and other entities to punish Moscow for its invasion of Ukraine.
A spokesperson for the Russian embassy in Paris told the TASS news agency the boat's captain had telephoned the embassy, which then contacted the French authorities to ask for an explanation of the incident.
U.K. says "bulk" of Russian invading force within 20 miles of downtown Kyiv
Britain's defense ministry said on Saturday morning that the "bulk" of Russia's invading military force in Ukraine was within 20 miles of the capital Kyiv. Localized street fighting has been reported since early on Friday in north and eastern Kyiv, within just a couple miles of the heart of the city.
"Russian forces have continued their advance on Kyiv with the bulk of their forces now 30 km [19 miles] from the centre of the city," the defense ministry said in an "Intelligence Update" posted to its official Twitter page. Russia has yet to gain control of the airspace over Ukraine greatly reducing the effectiveness of the Russian Air Force."
Citing what it called "a staunch resistance across the country" by Ukrainian forces, the British military said its intelligence showed Russia was likely to suffer "heavy and greater" casualties than had been "anticipated or acknowledged by the Kremlin."
Poland refuses to play Russia in soccer World Cup qualifier, citing "aggression" in Ukraine
Poland is refusing to play its World Cup qualifier against Russia in response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine, the Polish soccer federation president said Saturday.
Cezary Kulesza made the announcement on Twitter, citing Russia's assault, and indicated Poland was in talks with other federations to present a unified position to FIFA.
"No more words, time to act!" Kulesza wrote, saying the move was prompted by the "escalation of the aggression."
Previously, Poland had only said it didn't want to play the qualifying playoff semifinal in Moscow on March 24.
The winner plays Sweden or the Czech Republic for a place at the Qatar World Cup.
Poland's move comes a day after Europe's top soccer body, UEFA, decided to. The decision on Friday to move the 2021/22 Men's Champions League final from St. Petersburg, Russia to Paris followed UEFA's condemnation of the ongoing Russian invasion.
Russia claims "military infrastructure" targeted, Ukrainians say apartment building hit
There were no casualties from a missile attack on a residential building in Kyiv early on Saturday, Anton Gerashenko, an advisor to Ukraine's interior minister, said. Gerashenko said Russian troops were shelling civilian sites, and that at least 40 had been hit.
Images showed a massive, smoking hole in the apartment building.
Russia's ministry of defense said it launched attacks from land and sea targeting Ukraine's "military infrastructure" overnight. The ministry claimed it had destroyed "14 military airfields, 19 command posts and communication centers," along with anti-aircraft missile systems, radar stations, 14 Ukrainian military aircraft and dozens of tanks and other equipment.
Ukraine's Health Ministry was quoted by the Interfax news agency as saying the death toll from Russia's assault, as it entered a third day, had climbed to at least 198 Ukrainians, including three children. The head of the ministry said 1,115 people had been wounded, including 33 children.
Russia's media watchdog bans reports on "invasion" or "assault" in Ukraine
Russia's communications regulator on Saturday ordered media to remove reports describing Moscow's attack on Ukraine as an "assault, invasion, or declaration of war" or face being blocked and fined.
In a statement, Roskomnadzor accused a number of independent media outlets including television channel Dozhd and the country's top independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta of spreading "unreliable socially significant untrue information" about the shelling of Ukrainian cities by the Russian army and civilian deaths.
Citing a request from the General Prosecutor's Office, the communications regulator said the media outlets, which also include Echo of Moscow radio, will be blocked unless they remove the "unreliable information."
"Roskomnadzor also launched an administrative investigation into the dissemination of unreliable publicly significant information by the above-mentioned media," the watchdog said. The offense is punishable by a fine of up to five million rubles ($60,000), it said.
Roskomnadzor said "reliable information" could be found in "official Russian information outlets."
Biden authorizes another $350 million in military aid for Ukraine
President Biden on Thursday authorized the the U.S. government to deliver another $350 million worth of weapons and equipment from Pentagon stocks to Ukraine, to help the country's forces repel Russia's invasion.
Mr. Biden issued a memorandum to Secretary of Stage Antony Blinken authorizing the State Department to "provide immediate military assistance to Ukraine... in defense articles and services of the Department of Defense, and military education and training."
While the White House has said it will not send American forces to back up Ukraine's military, as the country is not a NATO member, the U.S. has steadily increased its material support for President Volodymyr Zelensky's government and military.
The last announcement of military aid came from Mr. Biden in January, when heas Russia massed forces around Ukraine's borders.
Ukraine claims forces have killed 1,000 Russian troops
CBS News' Holly Williams said she and her team heard what sounded like more airstrikes overnight in Kyiv as sirens wailed. Ukraine's government said the fighting was now on the streets of the capital, and officials claimed the country's forces had shot down two Russian planes carrying paratroopers.
U.S. and British officials have said the Ukrainian forces are putting up a much.
Ukrainian officials claim their military has killed more than 1,000 Russian troops, which CBS News cannot independently verify.
The Ukrainians have dug in deep to defend their country. In Kyiv, the government said it had handed out 18,000 guns to volunteers, and arriving into the city from the east on Thursday, CBS News found checkpoints manned by reservists.
Russia vetoes U.N. resolution condemning Ukraine attack; China abstains
Russia has vetoed a resolution brought up in the U.N.'s Security Council that would have condemned its invasion of Ukraine. Russia cast the sole vote against the measure. The surprising vote was the abstention by China, which effectively cast Russia as alone among the world powers.
"China is deeply concerned about the latest developments of the situation in Ukraine. Currently, it has come to the point which we do not want to see," Chinese Ambassador Zhang Jun wrote in a statement after the vote. "We welcome and encourage all efforts for a diplomatic solution, and support the Russian Federation and Ukraine in resolving the issue through negotiations."
In total, 11 nations voted in favor, with the United Arab Emirates and India also abstaining.
Council members knew that this would be the fate of the measure — but the results of the vote were seen by supporters of the resolution as a win for the U.S. and Albania, the lead sponsors. U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Linda Thomas-Greenfield said that the sponsors would now introduce a similar resolution in the 193-nation General Assembly where there are no vetoes.
"You cannot veto our principles. You cannot veto the Ukrainian people. You cannot veto the UN Charter. And you will not veto accountability," Thomas-Greenfield told the diplomats.
"We are united behind Ukraine and its people, despite a reckless, irresponsible Permanent Member of the Security Council abusing its power to attack its neighbor and subvert the UN and our international system," she added.
Before the meeting began, representatives from 27 European nations as well as the Ukrainian U.N. Ambassador held up a Ukrainian flag in front of the anti-war tapestry Guernica to show solidarity with Ukraine.
Ukraine and Russia "consulting" about a place and time to hold negotiations, Zelensky spokesman says
Representatives from Ukraine and Russia have contacted each other and are discussing a place and time for potential negotiations, a spokesperson for Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Facebook. A Ukrainian official confirmed the authenticity of the post to CBS News' Camilla Schick.
The spokesman, Sergii Nykyforov, said in the post that "Ukraine was and remains ready to talk about ceasefire and peace. This is our constant position," according to a translation of his remarks.
"We responded in agreement to the proposal of the President of the Russian Federation," Nykyforov continued. "Directly at these hours, the parties are consulting about the place and time of the negotiation process. The sooner the negotiations begin, the more chance there will be to restore normal life."
NATO to use response force for the first time to defend allies
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said the 30-nation organization will send parts of the NATO Response Force and elements of a quickly deployable spearhead unit to the alliance's eastern flank. It's the first time the force has been used to defend NATO allies.
Stoltenberg did not say how many troops would be sent or where they might go, but he did confirm that the move would involve land, sea and air power.
In response to Europe's biggest security crisis in decades, Stoltenberg said, "We are now deploying the NATO Response Force for the first time in a collective defense context. We speak about thousands of troops. We speak about air and maritime capabilities."
"There must be no space for miscalculation or misunderstanding. We will do what it takes to protect and defend every ally, and every inch of NATO territory," he said.
The NRF can number up to 40,000 troops, but Stoltenberg said that NATO would not be deploying the entire force. Parts of a spearhead unit known in NATO jargon as the Very High Readiness Joint Task Force, which is currently led by France, will also be sent.