NATO leaders will announce the outlines of a rapid response force that aims to soothe fears among member states on the alliance's eastern flank and deter Russian aggression.

The agreement will clear the way for NATO countries to position more troops and equipment in Eastern Europe. Countries in the region fear they could be Russia's next target following its provocations in Ukraine.

NATO's announcements Friday will come against the backdrop of peace talks in Minsk, Belarus, which are expected to lead to a cease-fire. Western leaders have expressed skepticism about the process.

The outcome of the talks could determine whether Western nations levy additional sanctions on Russia. A top U.S. official says the penalties could be implemented within a matter of days.