As the crisis in Ukraine escalates, NATO plans to build up forces along the eastern borders of its member states to guard against potential Russian aggression. NATO leaders will be asked this week to approve the formation of a high readiness force along with the stockpiling of military supplies and equipment to protect member states in response to military action in Ukraine, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said Monday during a pre-summit press conference.

“The Readiness Action Plan will ensure that we have the right forces and the right equipment in the right place, at the right time,” Rasmussen said. “That also means more visible NATO presence in the East for as long as required.”

Rasmussen notes NATO already has a Response Force, but this new plan is aimed at enhancing its current reaction capabilities.

“The Readiness Action Plan responds to Russia’s aggressive behavior -- but it equips the Alliance to respond to all security challenges, wherever they may arise,” Rasmussen said.

The Independent reported the reaction force will consist of 4,000 troops and is designed to respond within 48 hours to aggression in Eastern Europe. The plan also calls for possible upgrades to airfields and ports to support and enable use by NATO forces.

The announcement comes ahead of a NATO summit to be held in Newport, Wales, starting Thursday. NATO leaders plan to discuss various issues, including the winding down of its mission in Afghanistan. But the topic of NATO's response to Russian movements in Ukraine is expected to dominate the meeting.

“The crises we face reach far beyond our borders,” Rasmussen said. “That is why our approach to security reaches beyond our borders too.”