US to pay 3.4 bln USD to strengthen its presence in Europe

The weapons and equipment will be used by American and NATO forces

Baku. 2 February. REPORT.AZ/ President Obama plans to substantially increase the deployment of heavy weapons, armored vehicles and other equipment to NATO countries in Central and Eastern Europe, a move that administration officials said was aimed at deterring Russia from further aggression in the region.

Report informs citing the New York Times, the White House plans to pay for the additional weapons and equipment with a budget request of more than $3.4 billion for military spending in Europe in 2017, several officials said Monday, more than quadrupling the current budget of $789 million. The weapons and equipment will be used by American and NATO forces, ensuring that the alliance can maintain a full armored combat brigade in the region at all times.

Though Russia’s military activity has quieted in eastern Ukraine in recent months, Moscow continues to maintain a presence there, working with pro-Russian local forces. Administration officials said the additional NATO forces were calculated to send a signal to President Vladimir V. Putin that the West remained deeply suspicious of his motives in the region.

“This is not a response to something that happened last Tuesday,” a senior administration official said. “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.”

While the increase in funding for Europe is significant, the administration is proposing that the money come from a separate war-funding account that is meant to pay for operations in the conflicts in Iraq and Syria, as well as the continued American military presence in Afghanistan. That means it is a one-time request, not necessarily a continuing commitment built in to budget requests beyond 2017, officials said.

Administration officials said the new investments were not just about deterring Russia. The weapons and equipment could also be deployed along NATO’s southern flank, where they could help in the fight against the Islamic State or in dealing with the influx of migrants from Syria.

“Initially, we were focusing on reassurance,” said one of the senior officials, who, like the others, spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal military planning. “But while that was happening, we were stepping back and asking how to address the changed environment in a more programmatic and consistent way.”

“This is a message that we see what they’re capable of, and what their political leadership is willing to do,” said another senior administration official, in a reference to Russia.

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