The United States Army is expected to send Bradley fighting vehicles and M1 tanks to Hungary next year for military exercises, local media reported Wednesday. The move is considered to be part of NATO’s response to the conflict between Moscow and Kiev over the former’s alleged backing of pro-Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine.
The report by pro-government Napi Gazdasag newspaper followed U.S. officials’ statement last month that Washington was planning to stock up heavy military equipment in the Baltics and Eastern European countries. The U.S. is working to reinforce its military presence in the region to reassure support for its Eastern European allies, who are concerned over Russia’s intervention in Ukraine, Reuters reported, citing the Hungarian newspaper.
According to Napi Gazdasag, the option to store tanks in Hungary was first considered when Lieutenant General Ben Hodges, commander of U.S. Army in Europe, visited the country in February. The newspaper added that U.S. troops will also participate in the military exercise, called the “Brave Warrior,” in Hungary with Stryker fighting vehicles.
The U.S. forces will also take part in a joint crossing exercise on the Danube River in the autumn, Napi Gazdasag reported, without specifying how it obtained the information.
Although NATO has made clear that it will not interfere in Ukraine’s national matters, the alliance has also said that it will boost the defenses of Eastern European countries. According to reports, NATO may deploy nearly 40,000 troops in its rapid response Spearhead Force, most of which are likely to be stationed close to Russian borders in Eastern Europe.
In February, NATO defense ministers reportedly agreed to double the size of the rapid reaction force to better protect the Eastern European borders with Russia.