Tallinn (AFP) – The US will deploy heavy weapons in central and eastern Europe for the first time, Washington said Tuesday, in the midst of the worst stand-off between Russia and the West since the Cold War, triggered by the crisis in Ukraine.
“We will temporarily stage one armoured brigade combat team’s vehicles and associated equipment in countries in central and eastern Europe,” US Defence Secretary Ashton Carter said at a joint press conference with three Baltic defence ministers on the eve of NATO ministerial talks.
“This pre-positioned European activity set includes tanks, infantry fighting vehicles, artillery,” he said, adding that Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia, Bulgaria, Romania and Poland had “agreed to host company- to battalion-sized elements of this equipment” which would be “moved around the region for training and exercises.”
“While we do not seek a cold, let alone a hot war with Russia, we will defend our allies,” Carter added.
The Pentagon said the deployment of 250 heavy weaponry would include 90 Abrams tanks, 140 Bradley armoured vehicles, and 20 self-propelled howitzers.
“The American move sends a signal to Russia, US allies and other global powers that the US is a leading global military power able to counter Russian threats in the region — that it’s not a power in decline,” Marcin Terlikowski, a security analyst with the Polish Institute of International Affairs (PISM), told AFP.
German Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen (L) and her US counterpart Ashton Carter review an hono …
The US announcement comes as NATO vowed Monday to step up its military presence in eastern Europe against the backdrop of the conflict in Ukraine.
Ukrainian rebels on Tuesday accused government forces of killing three civilians in attacks launched hours before the start of crunch talks in Paris on ways to halt the 15-month separatist war.
Kiev’s Western-backed military command meanwhile reported the death of one soldier and accused the pro-Russian rebels of heavy mortar and artillery fire.
The ongoing bloodshed underscores a repeated failure by diplomats to find a way out of a crisis that has killed 6,500 people in a little over a year.
Entering the Paris talks, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said the recent deaths “shows that the ceasefire isn’t just fragile but that the daily violations are becoming more frequent.”
US Secretary of Defense Asthon Carter talks with soldiers of the German-Dutch Corps during his visit …
“Without a ceasefire, all the other factors won’t come together,” warned the minister ahead of talks with his French, Russian and Ukrainian counterparts.
– Flexing muscle continue reading by clicking here