NEW: PREPPING THE STAGE! US sending armored vehicles into Eastern Europe to deter Russia
The US Army plans to bolster US armored presence and keep rotations of American troops in Eastern Europe to provide “deterrence against Russian aggression.”
Lt. Gen. Frederick "Ben" Hodges, the new Army commander in Europe, said that 100 Abrams tanks and Bradley Fighting Vehicles would be deployed into Eastern Europe.
"We are looking at courses of action for how we could pre-position equipment that we would definitely want to put inside a facility where it would be better maintained, that rotational units could then come and draw on it and use it to train, or for contingency purposes," Hodges said in Vilnius, Lithuania.
Besides Lithuania, the United States is looking to position its armored vehicles in Estonia and Poland.
Hodges accused the Russian leaders of seeking to “plant the seeds of uncertainty so that [NATO] members lose confidence that the rest of the alliance would come to their aid if they were, in fact, attacked.”
The US officer, however, said that he did not believe Russia would
launch “a conventional attack” into NATO territory because it would draw
“an Article 5 response."
Article 5 is a NATO treaty article that calls on all member states to respond to an attack on any member of the alliance.
During a visit to Kiev last week, NATO’s top military commander Air Force Gen. Philip Breedlove raised the specter of “additional rotational presence” in Eastern Europe to help reassure NATO allies in the face of Russian operations in Ukraine.
“Additionally I’m having discussions with the service chiefs about the possibility of forward-based equipment and supplies — as the Army calls, them ‘activity sets’ — in order to give us a more responsive capability if we were to need it in the future,” Breedlove stated.
Military tensions between NATO and Moscow have escalated steadily since April, when the Black Sea peninsula of Crimea reunited with the Russian Federation following a referendum a month earlier.
The United States accuses Russia of arming and supporting pro-Russian forces fighting in the predominantly Russian-speaking areas in eastern Ukraine. Moscow calls the accusations "groundless."