Defense Secretary Ash Carter says the U.S. will pre-position tanks, artillery, and military equipment in six European countries. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).
ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) The United States will pre-position tanks, artillery and other military equipment in eastern and central Europe, U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter announced on Tuesday, moving to reassure NATO allies unnerved by Russian involvement in Ukraine. Carter, during a trip to Tallinn, said the Baltic states: Estonia, Lithuania, Latvia; as well as Bulgaria, Romania and Poland agreed to host elements of this heavy equipment. Some of the equipment would also be located in Germany. The U.S. decision to stage heavy equipment closer to Russia's borders aims to speed deployment of rotating U.S. forces as NATO steps up exercises in Europe following Russia's annexation of Ukraine's Crimea region last year. Neighboring NATO countries, especially the former Soviet Baltic states with their Russian minorities, fear Russia could foment trouble on their territories. Moscow denies any such intention. Flanked by defense chiefs from the Baltic states, Carter quoted Obama during a visit to Estonia saying: "You lost your independence once before. With NATO, you will never lose it again." "That's because the United States and the rest of the NATO alliance are absolutely committed to defending the territorial integrity of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania," Carter said. Under NATO's founding treaty, an attack on any member state would constitute an attack on all parties. Russia accuses the West of violating post-Cold War arrangements by extending NATO to Russia's frontiers, something the West denies Estonian Defense Minister Sven Mikser welcomed the decision, on pre-positioning as did representatives from Latvia and Lithuania. Mikser said his nation was ready to host pre-positioned equipment and a rotational presence of U.S. forces. "We have reasons to believe that Russia views the Baltic region as one of NATO's most vulnerable areas, a place where NATO's resolve and commitment could be tested," Mikser said.