NATO defense ministers meeting on Russia, other challenges before alliance summit

NATO defense ministers are gathering for the first time since the Ukraine crisis, and top of the agenda is how to react long-term to Russia's new military capabilities and its willingness to use them.

The two-day meeting in Brussels, which begins Tuesday, is supposed to help set the stage for the U.S-led alliance's summit meeting in Wales this September. NATO has already taken some immediate steps to react to Moscow's military occupation and annexation of Crimea.

Alliance officials said the ministers will consider longer-term responses, including an action readiness plan, a stepped-up schedule for military exercises and the possibility of additional deployments.

The ministers will discuss other topics, including the future of Afghanistan and defense spending. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is attending for the United States.