Because of Russia’s aggressive actions in Ukraine, the U.S. plans to store military equipment in Eastern Europe and the Baltic. This would be the first time the U.S. has placed heavy equipment in states that used to be under Soviet influence.
The equipment that would be pre-positioned would be sufficient for the needs of approximately 5,000 soldiers, including infantry fighting vehicles and tanks, a U.S. official told Reuters on condition of anonymity. In addition, a second U.S. official stated, “We will pre-position significant equipment.” The anonymous statements confirmed a Sunday article in the New York Times, which was the first news source to publish this story.
Poland and Lithuania confirmed that they were also discussing plans about placing military equipment in the region. Lithuanian Prime Minister Algirdas Butkevicius told Reuters, “The threats to the Baltic region have increased. This has been discussed many times and I view positively (the fact) that talks lead to concrete decisions which, I think, will become a reality.”
U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter and the White House are expected to approve this proposal in Brussels later this month. The proposal seeks to reassure European allies in the wake of Russia’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea in March 2014.
Military specialists have performed site surveys at the locations being considered. In addition, the Pentagon is in the process of estimating how much it would cost to upgrade railroads and warehouses and also replace Soviet-era facilities, so they would be able to accommodate the new equipment. This placement of equipment would save valuable time and resources by not having to move the equipment every time an American unit goes to Europe for training. These locations would be guarded by security contractors and not by U.S. military personnel.
Col. Steven H. Warren, a Pentagon spokesman, stated, “The U.S. 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.”
The Army has already stated that it is going to increase the amount of military equipment stored in southeastern Germany. This could be viewed as a preliminary step before any decision is made to place them in a location that is farther to the east.