U.S. President Barack Obama plans to significantly increase the presence of heavy arms, military vehicles and other military equipment in Central and Eastern Europe, as The New York Times was told by officials of the president’s administration, adding that the goal of this step is to hold off Russia from further aggression in the region.
Pentagon official revealed that reinforcements and additional military equipment could be deployed in Hungary, Romania and Baltic States.
The White House plans to spend more than USD 3.4 billion on military expenditure in Europe in 2017, as mentioned by multiple officials.
U.S. and NATO forces will use those weapons and equipment, which will help the alliance maintain a battle-ready brigade in the region at all times.
Although Russia’s military activity in Eastern Europe has become slow in recent months, Moscow’s presence is still felt there.
Officials of Obama’s administration note that additional NATO forces should send a signal to Russian President Vladimir Putin, specifically that the west is highly suspicious of Moscow’s steps in that region.
«This is not a response to something that happened last Tuesday. This is a longer-term response to a changed security environment in Europe. This reflects a new situation, where Russia has become a more difficult actor,» – said a high-rank official of the U.S. President’s Administration.
Analysts outside of the White House, on the other hand, are surprised the American government plans to spend that much money on increased military presence in Europe, which is part of the Pentagon’s USD 580 billion budget request.
An official working in the defence sector said Obama also plans to request the Senate to provide a 35% increase of funding of the fight against the Islamic State terrorist organization.
According to multiple analysts, increase of military presence and expenditure by USA will only make Russia angrier.
Evelyn N. Farkas, who until October was the Pentagon’s top policy official on Russia and Ukraine, has said that this step will serve as a clear signal of USA’s commitment to deterring potential threats coming from Russia and strengthening cooperation with countries like Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia.
According to another analyst, however, this step is not likely to serve as a calming factor to Eastern Europe, because it leaves any future decisions regarding other possible military costs in Europe in the hands of the next administration.
Russia has invested a lot of effort in to reforming its Soviet-style army into lighter and more flexible forces. This along with Putin’s wish to use the army to expand Russia’s influence outside of its borders demands larger military deterrence to prevent potential threats, said the American official.
«Applying this budget to Europe fulfills promises we’ve made to NATO on the collective defense of the alliance,» – a senior defence official said on Monday.
This official also said the Pentagon wishes to deploy a brigade-level force in Eastern Europe on a rotational principle in order to demonstrate USA’s commitment to collective defence of those countries.
American officials are certain this step will not be considered as a breach of the 1997 treaty between NATO and Russia. Poland and Baltic States in particular, on the other hand, believe Russia has already breached this treaty with its aggression in Eastern Ukraine.