The US Army in Europe has started deploying its heavy military vehicles to strategic locations in Eastern Europe and the Baltics as part of Operation Atlantic Resolve, according to the Defense News website.
A total of 3,300 personnel and 2,500 pieces of equipment, including 87 Abrams tanks and 18 Paladin howitzers, will be delivered to Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania as well as Poland, Romania, Bulgaria and Hungary.
Defense News cited military officials as saying that they perceive the deployment as “a large-scale exercise meant to stress logistics skills that would be needed in case of a war on the continent.”
Operation Atlantic Resolve was launched to increase NATO’s military buildup in Eastern Europe and the Baltic States amid the ongoing Ukrainian crisis, with Western countries using alleged Russian interference in Ukrainian affairs as a pretext.
Moscow has repeatedly voiced its protest against the alliance’s buildup, saying that it will undermine regional stability and result in new tensions.
In March 2017, Russian envoy to NATO Alexander Grushko warned that NATO attempts to draw demarcation lines in Europe could only lead to the resumption of the arms race which he said “is obviously not in the interests of the European nations.”
“These [NATO] efforts form a new military reality, which we cannot ignore. In essence, they are trying to draw us into a confrontation to justify the need for the Alliance,” Grushko pointed out.
According to him, Russia-NATO information exchange on military activity is not enough to ensure the improvement of the security situation in Europe.
NATO decided to cut down cooperation with Russia after the outbreak of the Ukrainian crisis in 2014 when the alliance accused Russia of annexing Crimea and meddling in the war in eastern Ukraine’s Donbass region.
Moscow rejected the accusations, stressing that Crimea rejoined Russia in accordance with democratic norms.