The Pentagon will contribute special operations forces, intelligence and military weaponry to a new NATO rapid response force in a bid to deter Russian aggression in eastern Europe.
US Defense Secretary Ash Carter made the announcement Monday as he accused Moscow of trying to re-create a Soviet-era sphere of influence, Reuters reported.
“We do not seek a cold, let alone a hot war with Russia. We do not seek to make Russia an enemy,” Carter was quoted as saying in a speech in Berlin. “But make no mistake: we will defend our allies, the rules-based international order, and the positive future it affords us all.”
Russia’s intervention over Ukraine has put NATO allies in eastern Europe on edge and triggered a series of military moves by the NATO alliance, including an acceleration of exercises and the creation of a Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF).
Moscow denies providing troops or arms to pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine. But neighboring NATO countries, especially the Baltic states of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia, fear Russia could foment trouble on their territories.
Carter said he is preparing to discuss planned U.S. contributions to the force with NATO defense chiefs later this week in Brussels.
The Pentagon’s support will include intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance assets as well as special operations forces, logistical expertise and high-end US military assets.
“We’re making this commitment to the VJTF because the United States is deeply committed to the collective defense of Europe,” Carter said.
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