US to quadruple support for European collective defense

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The administration of Barrack Obama intends to allot $3.4b to the European Reassurance Initiative (ERI) next year, effectively quadrupling the current commitment to its NATO partners in Central and Eastern Europe, reported LSM's Russian-language service Wednesday.

The administration announced an Department of Defense funding request of $3.4 billion for the ERI, an initiative meant to reinforce the collective defense of European allies. The request is within the framework of the 2017 fiscal year, beginning on October 1, 2016. 

It was also announced that 789.3 million dollars will be directed into the European Reassurance Initiative in 2016.

The Latvian Foreign Ministry welcomed the US' commitment to strengthening European defensive capabilities:

"Latvia's Minister of Foreign Affairs, Edgars Rinkēvičs, welcomes the United States announcement of its readiness to further support collective defence measures including with increased funding of the European Reassurance Initiative (ERI), thereby giving Latvia the opportunity to develop its defence infrastructure and invest in the development of defence capabilities."

The ERI began following the Russian occupation of Crimea with the goal of increasing U.S. force presence in Europe, expand exercises and training with NATO Allies and partners, and augment prepositioned equipment for use in joint exercises. 

According to the announcement, the ERI request for the next year "marks a significant upgrade of these efforts and is intended not only to continue assurance measures but also to enable a quicker and more robust response in support of NATO’s common defense."

The funding would, according to the release, allow the US to increase its rotational troop presence, conduct more exercises and training, enhance prepositioning, improve infrastructure and build the defense capacity of the Eastern European allies and partners.  

The funds will be used for stationing up to 5,000 troops and the required equipment, including artillery and heavy armored vehicles.

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