Russian defense ministry official General Yuri Yakubov said last week that such a move would be interpreted as a clear provocation from the U.S. “If heavy U.S. military equipment, including tanks, artillery batteries and other equipment really does turn up in countries in Eastern Europe and the Baltics, that will be the most aggressive step by the Pentagon and NATO since the Cold War,” he said, according to the Interfax news agency.

During his European trip this week, Carter also announced that the U.S. would be providing “intelligence and surveillance capabilities, special operations forces, logistics, transport aircraft, and a range of weapons support that could include bombers, fighters and ship-based missiles” to NATO’s new “rapid reaction force.”

According to anonymous officials, the force, which would be activated in the event of a regional “crisis,” may also include the mobilization of U.S. troops.

AP reports:

The announcements come as Eastern European NATO countries began a series of months-long military exercises designed to “demonstrate their readiness to confront Russia.” Later this week, Carter is expected to meet with European defense ministers in Brussels to discuss the military escalation.

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