US Secretary of Defense: 'temporary' heavy brigade heading to Baltic

United States Secretary of State for Defence Carter Ash paid a visit to the Baltic states Tuesday, saying in Tallinn that the US presence would be beefed up by the pre-positioning of a heavy combat division in the region.

"We will temporarily stage one armored brigade combat team's vehicles and associated equipment in countries in central and eastern Europe," Carter told journalists in Tallinn.

"This pre-positioning... includes tanks, infantry fighting vehicles and artillery," he said.

"Estonia as well as Lithuania, Latvia, Bulgaria, Romania and Poland have agreed to host company-to-battalion-sized elements of this equipment which will be moved around the region for training and exercises," Carter added.

Latvia was represented at the meeting of Carter with Baltic Defense Ministers by Permanent Secretary of the Latvian Ministry of Defence Jānis Sārts, who paid tribute to the US' commitment to defending its allies.

"We really welcome your announcement of pre-positioning of equipment in our region," Sārts said, describing the decision as providing a "credible deterrent" to Russian aggression

“Together with the pre-positioned equipment, persistent presence of that scale would send a sufficiently strong message to any potential aggressor,” Estonian Defense Minister Sven Mikser said.

"Putin believes that he has regional superiority," Mikser explained, adding that rather than matching Russia "tank by tank", NATO was instead creating a flexible system of responses to any threat.

Tomorrow, Carter will leave for Brussels for a NATO Defence Ministers’ meeting.

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