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Pentagon seeks to reassure allies

Updated: 2015-06-15 07:46
By Agencies in Washington (China Daily)

Ukraine crisis prompts plan to 'pre-position significant equipment' in Eastern Europe

The United States plans to store heavy military equipment in Baltic countries and Eastern European nations to reassure allies made uneasy by Russian intervention in Ukraine and to deter further aggression, a senior US official said on Saturday.

"We will pre-position significant equipment," the official said, commenting on a New York Times report that the Pentagon was poised to store battle tanks, infantry fighting vehicles and other heavy weapons for as many as 5,000 troops.

"The proposed 'pre-positioned' stocks - to be stored on allied bases and enough to equip a brigade of 3,000 to 5,000 soldiers - also would be similar to what the United States maintained in Kuwait for more than a decade after Iraq invaded in 1990 and was expelled by American and allied forces early the next year," The New York Times said.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, declined to comment on the details of the report, which cited US and allied officials.

The report said the move, if approved, would mark the first time since the Cold War that Washington has stationed heavy military equipment in the newer NATO member states in Eastern Europe that once were part of the Soviet sphere of influence and even part of the Soviet Union itself.

However, the Pentagon has taken no final decision on storing heavy weapons in Eastern Europe, spokesman Steve Warren told TASS on Saturday.

"Over the last few years, the United States military has increased the pre-positioning of equipment for training and exercises with our NATO allies and partners. The US military continues to review the best location to store these materials in consultation with our allies. At this time, we have made no decision about if or when to move to this equipment," Warren said.

Washington and its allies consider this measure as a step in response to events in Ukraine, TASS reported. The US equipment could be stored on allied bases, namely in Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Poland, Romania, Bulgaria and possibly Hungary.

The US is discussing the particular possibility with its allies, but no decisions have been taken so far. The proposal "falls short of permanently assigning United States troops to the Baltics," the report says.

The proposal, which seeks to reassure European allies, is expected to be approved by US Defense Secretary Ash Carter and the White House before a NATO defense ministers' meeting in Brussels this month, the paper said, quoting senior officials.

Reuters - AFP

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