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U.S. Defense Secretary Ashton Carter confirmed Tuesday that the U.S. will deploy one armored combat brigade to Europe, bolstering joint training exercises with NATO partners in an effort to deter Russian aggression in eastern Europe. Carter said the armored brigade will include tanks, artillery and armored vehicles.
At a news conference in Estonia, Carter said six countries — including Estonia, Romania and Poland — have agreed to temporarily host the armored brigade.
“While we do not seek cold let alone 'hot war' with Russia, we will defend our allies, the rule-based international order and the positive future it affords us all,” Carter told reporters, emphasizing that the move is not permanent and does not include troops.
Defense officials told NBC News the forward deployment of the armored brigade will allow the U.S. to conduct more frequent training exercises in the region and send a strong signal to Russian President Vladimir Putin that the U.S. stands firmly with NATO in defense of the Baltic nations.
There will be no U.S. military forces permanently deployed with the weapons, according to senior military officials. U.S. troops will be deployed as needed for joint exercises.
U.S. officials added this is an effort to provide a "credible deterrence" to Russian aggression not an effort to reignited the Cold War with Russia.
Senior military officials said the brigade will consist of 250 armored track vehicles, including tanks, Bradley fighting vehicles and artillery.
There was no indication the U.S. was preparing to provide defensive weapons to Ukraine, where the government continues to fight Russian-backed rebels in the country’s southeast. The violence continues in the region despite a ceasefire agreement reached in February.
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg told reporters Monday meeting that this was not a return to the Cold War.
"We are not in a Cold War situation, but we are not in a strategic partnership with Russia either,” he told a news conference. “Therefore, we are facing something which is in between the historic experience of the Cold War and what we strive to establish, a strategic partnership with Russia after the Cold War.”