BELGRADE – Hundreds of American tanks, trucks and other military equipment have arrived at the German port of Bremerhaven to be transferred to Eastern Europe as part of NATO’s buildup near Russia’s borders.
The Resolve cargo ship arrived on Wednesday, while two more vessels – Freedom and Endurance – are expected in Germany on Sunday, Deutsche Welle reported. The unloading of the ships began on Friday, with the heavy equipment to be transported to Poland via rail and road.
The US plans to deliverer a total of 87 Abrams M1A1 tanks, 20 Paladin artillery vehicles and 136 Bradley fighting vehicles to Eastern Europe, according to Reuters. Four thousand American troops will reportedly be spread across Poland, the Baltic States, Bulgaria and Romania where they’ll remain on rotation basis.
Polish and US troops are scheduled to hold joint “massing” drills in Poland later this month, which NATO says is aimed at reassuring its European allies in the face of what it calls aggressive Russian behavior.
The 10th Combat Aviation Brigade, with 50 Black Hawk helicopters, 10 CH-47 Chinook helicopters and 1,800 personnel, as well as a separate aviation battalion with 400 troops and 24 Apache helicopters are also scheduled for deployment in Eastern Europe.
“The best way to maintain the peace is through preparation,” US Major General Timothy McGuire explained, adding that the deployment is about “just showing the strength and cohesion of the alliance and the US commitment to maintain the peace on the continent.”
Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania will host troops from Germany, Canada and the UK, with each nation sending up to 1,000 servicemen.
NATO calls it military buildup near Russia’s borders a defensive measure, claiming it is justified after Moscow’s reunion with Crimea in 2014 and its alleged involvement in the Ukrainian crisis. Russia views the military bloc’s actions aggressive and said the massive military is undermining the security balance on the European continent.
In November 2016, the Pentagon shipped more than 600 containers of ammunition for Army and Air Force units in Europe, according military.com, marking the largest single shipment of US ammunition in more than two decades, the website reported.
Moscow has responded by stationing its most modern weaponry and armaments on its western borders, including the enclave region of Kaliningrad, and staging large-scale military drills on its own territory.
Washington opted to speed up the deployment of its troops to Eastern Europe after Donald Trump’s win in the presidential election.
Trump, who is to be inaugurated on January 20, has been calling for improved relations with Russia and has voiced skepticism towards NATO, saying European powers would have to contribute a bigger part of the budget if they wanted to continue relying on US protection.