General Philip Breedlove, NATO's top commander in Europe, has proposed that the Polish city of Szczecin expand its existing base to help the military alliance respond faster to any threat posed by Russia.

According to the Atlantic Council, a Washington-based think-tank close to NATO, Britain and other NATO allies backing the general’s plans to place supplies — weapons, ammunition and ration packs — at a new headquarters in eastern Europe, to enable a sudden influx of thousands of NATO troops to be ready for action in the event of a crisis.

Reportedly, a number of NATO bases are being considered for the role but the leading contender is Multinational Corps Northeast, in Szczecin, Poland. Multinational Corps Northeast was formed in 1999 at Szeczecin as the only multilateral corps of NATO so far, consisting of Polish, German and Danish divisions.

General Breedlove "wants to use an existing headquarters in the NATO structure and focus them fully on the Article 5 mission", an alliance source quoted by the Atlantic Council said, referring to one of the founding principles of NATO — that an attack on one is an attack on all.

"It would be a 24/7 fully functioning headquarters that forces could quickly fall in on to respond rapidly when needed," the source said. The general told a briefing in Naples this week that NATO needed "pre-positioned supplies, pre-positioned capabilities and a basing area ready to rapidly accept follow-on forces".

"The Russians have decided that they are willing to use force to achieve their aims […] and that breaks with 25 years of building a security structure in Europe built around certain fundamentals," a NATO official is quoted as saying.