Nine hundred US troops are to be sent to eastern Europe next year as America’s troubled relationship with Russia enters new, uncertain territory.
A US-led battle group of NATO allied soldiers will be sent to Poland as part of the multi-nation operation.
British forces will lead one of the four battle groups in Estonia, Canada will spearhead the presence in Latvia and Germany will be present in Lithuania.
There will be 4,000 allied soldiers deployed to the region in total.
The US battalion will include troops from the UK and Romania and deploy to Orzysz, north east Poland, in April.
Soldiers from the 3rd Squadron of 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment, whose troops fought in both Iraq and Afghanistan, will lead the effort.
Scroll down for video
Defense Secretary Ash Carter (right) was in Brussels meeting with other allied ministers on Wednesday. He is pictured above with Michael Fallon, the British minister for defense discussing their combined deployment to eastern Europe next year
The 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team of 4th Infantry Division, from Fort Carson, Colorado, will also be deployed with their full set of equipment, a Department of Defense spokesman said.
900 US TROOPS, TANKS AND ARTILLERY: US PLEDGE TO NATO’S ‘DETERRENCE’ MISSION
The US will contribute 900 troops alongside artillery, tanks and explosives experts to NATO’s build-up against Russia.
At a press conference in Brussels on Wednesday, Secretary of Defense Ash Carter mapped out what would be supplied.
In April, 900 troops from 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment in Viselk, Germany, will be deployed to Orzysz, north east Poland, in April.
There, they will lead British and Romanian troops in ‘deterrence’ mission against Russia. The 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment is also known as the 2nd Dragoons.
Members of the Regiment fought successfully in the Iraq war, stamping out Al-Qaeda strongholds in Baghdad in 2007.
They will remain in Orzysz while another combat brigade from the European Reassurance Initiative travels to the Baltic states, Romania and Bulgaria.
Arriving in February, it will remain in Poland until the 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment arrives in April, then carry out training exercises across other eastern European countries.
Secretary Ash Carter confirmed the US would also send tanks, explosive experts and engineers.
‘This was a decision made by the alliance leaders in Warsaw. The US will lead a battalion in Poland and deploy an entire, battle-ready battalion task force of approximately 900 soldiers from the 2nd Cavalry Regiment based in Germany.
‘We will send a headquarters elements, three Stryker Maneuvers with mobile gun systems, artillery battery as well as any tank, explosive ordinance disposal or engineer capabilities.
They will start in western Poland and distribute units across seven NATO countries. The brigade headquarters and 4 battalions will be based in Poland.
The 10th Combat Aviation Brigade from Fort Drum, New York, will arrive in March to also support
Defense Secretary Ash Carter was in Brussels on Wednesday meeting with other allied leaders.
NATO defense ministers are meeting throughout Wednesday and Thursday to map out plans for each of the groups.
‘Close to our borders, Russia continues its assertive military posturing,’ said NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on Wednesday.
‘This month alone, Russia has deployed nuclear-capable Iskander missiles to Kaliningrad and suspended a weapons-grade plutonium agreement with the United States.
‘And Russia continues to destabilize eastern Ukraine with military and financial support for the separatists.
Soldiers from the 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment (members of which are seen above in Baghdad, 2007) will be deployed to Poland in April
Spain’s Pedro Morenes Eulate (right) was also at the meeting in Brussels on Wednesday
The Spanish minister and Carter at one point embraced, holding one another while talking
Carter appeared in high spirits as he took his seat next to NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg (right) and Turkey’s Defense Minister Fikri Isik (left)
Carter signed off on the US’s contribution to the joint effort. He is seen with Secretary Stoltenberg (left) and the United Kingdom’s Michael Fallon (right)
‘These moves do not lower tensions or restore predictability to our relations.
‘We are concerned about Russia’s behaviour.’
It is the latest indicator of America’s fraught relationship with Russia and Vladimir Putin.
Carter is seen above with Germany’s Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen
Earlier this week images emerged showing Russians taking part in a nuclear war drill.
Underground shelters have reportedly been built in preparation for a war against the West, with citizens warned such a conflict could be imminent.
The Kremlin was also blamed by the US government earlier this month for orchestrating a mass hacking of Democratic National Committee members’ emails.
The material they stole from aides’ computers is still being uploaded to sites including Wikileaks, haunting Hillary Clinton’s campaign with the election just two weeks away.
‘We believe, based on the scope and sensitivity of these efforts, that only Russia’s senior-most officials could have authorized these activities’, said the office of the director of national intelligence and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) in a joint statement
Many have deduced Putin’s support for Republican candidate Donald Trump from the breach, accusing him of meddling in the election to affect its outcome to his advantage.
It is the latest indicator of Vladimir Putin’s fraught relationship with the West and comes weeks after the US government officially blamed the Kremlin for hacking 19,000 emails belonging to Democratic National Committee members and uploading them to Wikileaks
Pictures emerged last week showing how the Kremlin completed a nuclear drill for 40 million citizens
Many have deduced Putin’s support for Republican candidate Donald Trump from the DNC hack, accusing him of meddling in the election to affect its outcome to his benefit
Trump is a vocal fan of Putin’s, asserting that the pair would have a ‘very, very good relationship’ should he become president.
‘Russia wants to defeat ISIS as badly as we do. If we had a relationship with Russia, wouldn’t it be wonderful to work on it together and knock the hell out of ISIS,’ he said during an MSNBC interview earlier this year.
U.S. intelligence officials also warned that hackers with ties to Russia’s intelligence services could try to undermine the credibility of the presidential election by posting documents online purporting to show evidence of voter fraud.
The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said however, that the U.S. election system is so large, diffuse and antiquated that hackers would not be able to change the outcome of the Nov. 8 election.
But hackers could post documents, some of which might be falsified, that are designed to create public perceptions of widespread voter fraud, the officials said.
They said that they did not have specific evidence of such a plan, but state and local election authorities had been warned to be vigilant for hacking attempts.
Putin has denied any involvement in hacking.
The Russian leader also suspended a treaty on cleaning up weapons-grade plutonium, suggesting he was willing to use nuclear disarmament as a new bargaining chip in disputes with the United States over Ukraine and Syria.
Tensions between Russia and the rest of the West are also high.
Last week Putin sent an aircraft carrier on a bombing mission to Syria in a fleet that passed through the English Channel. In the past week, Britain has deployed RAF fighter jets to intercept Russian bombers nearing UK airspace twice in four days.
On Tuesday, Russia unveiled chilling pictures of its largest ever nuclear missile – Satan 2 – which is capable of destroying an area the size of obliterating small European countries including the UK.
France, Denmark, Italy and other allies are expected to join the four battle groups led by the United States, Germany, Britain and Canada to go to Poland, Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia, with forces ranging from armored infantry to drones
RUSSIAN SUPER-NUKE 2,000 TIMES MORE POWERFUL THAN HIROSHIMA ATOMIC BOMB
Russia has unveiled chilling pictures of its largest ever nuclear missile, capable of destroying an area the size of France.
The RS-28 Sarmat missile, dubbed Satan 2 by Nato, has a top speed of 4.3 miles (7km) per second and has been designed to outfox anti-missile shield systems.
The new Sarmat missile could deliver warheads of 40 megatons – 2,000 times as powerful as the atom bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945.
Russian President is reportedly planning to replace the country’s older SS-18 Satan weapons with the new missiles amid a string of recent disagreements with the West.
Russia has unveiled chilling pictures of its largest ever nuclear missile, capable of destroying an area the size of France. A contract for the weapons was signed in 2011, and they are expected to be ready in 2018
The pictures were revealed online by chief designers from the Makeyev Rocket Design Bureau.
A message posted alongside the picture said: ‘In accordance with the Decree of the Russian Government ‘On the State Defense Order for 2010 and the planning period 2012-2013’, the Makeyev Rocket Design Bureau was instructed to start design and development work on the Sarmat. ‘
The RS-28 Sarmat missile is said to contain 16 nuclear warheads and is capable of destroying an area the size of France or Texas, according to Russian news network Zvezda, which is owned by Russia’s ministry of defence.
The weapon is also able to evade radar.
Each missile contains 16 nuclear warheads, according to pictures revealed online from the Makeyev Rocket Design Bureau. It is also able to evade radar.
It is expected to have a range of 6,213 miles (10,000 km), which would allow Moscow to attack European cities as well as reaching cities on America’s west and east coasts.
Dr Sutyagin points out that the SS-18 missiles which the Russians currently rely on were designed in 1988 during the Soviet Union and were built at a factory in Dnipropetrovsk, in what is now the Ukraine.
He said: ‘Not only are they too fast but they have got rid of the predictable flight path.
‘It manouevres all the way so it is terribly difficult for any missile defence system to shoot it down.’
The Russian Defence Ministry plans to put the Sarmat into service in late 2018 and remove the last SS-18 by 2020.
The Sarmat has been in development since 2009 and is scheduled to start replacing the old ICBMs in 2018.
The new missile is said to be undergoing testing near Miass in Russia.
Reports in Russia suggest the Kremlin has already reinforced its Baltic Fleet in Kaliningrad with two small warships armed with long-range cruise missiles to counter what it sees as a worrying NATO build-up in the region.
Izvestia cited an unnamed military source as saying that the two ships, the Serpukhov and the Zeleny Dol, had already entered the Baltic Sea and would soon become part of a newly formed division.
The battle groups will be backed by NATO’s 40,000-strong rapid-reaction force, and if need be, further follow-on forces, for any potential conflict, which could move into Baltic states and Poland on rotation.
The strategy is part of an emerging new deterrent that could eventually be combined with missile defences, air patrols and defences against cyber attacks.
However, the alliance is still struggling for a similar strategy in the Black Sea region, which Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan has said is becoming a ‘Russian lake’ because of Moscow’s military presence there.
More than 200,000 specialists of rescue units and 50,000 units of equipment were said to have been involved in the drills
Romania, Bulgaria and Turkey are expected to soon come forward with a plan to increase naval and air patrols in the area, as well as a multinational NATO brigade in Romania.
Next year’s deployments have taken on greater symbolism since Russia pulled out of several nuclear disarmament agreements in the past two months while moving nuclear-capable missiles into its Baltic exclave in Kaliningrad.
The so-called Iskander-M cruise missiles can hit targets across Poland and the Baltics, although NATO officials declined to say if Russia had moved nuclear warheads to Kaliningrad.
Tensions have been building since Crimea and the West’s decision to impose retaliatory sanctions, but the breakdown of a US-Russia brokered ceasefire in Syria on October 3, followed by US accusations that Russia has used cyber attacks to disrupt the presidential election, have signalled a sharp worsening of East-West relations.
THE DNC HACK: A TIMELINE
Victoria Nuland, the Assistant Secretary of State, had her phoned bugged in 2014
2014: Victoria Nuland, the Assistant Secretary of State was recorded on the phone saying ‘f*** the EU’ in a bugged call to US Ambassador to Ukraine, Geoffrey Pyatt.
It was shared online by an aide to the Russian prime minister.
Fall 2015: The FBI is reported as approaching the DNC to warn them of a hack
April 2016: The DNC hires Crowdstrike, a California-based private cyber-security company to investigate a potential hack
June 14 2016: The Washington Post reports that the DNC has come under cyber attack. Later that day, Crowdstrike releases a report confirming the attack and says it was carried out by multiple hackers.
June 15: Guccifer 2.0, one of the hackers, claims full responsibility for the attack and publishes a memo from the Clinton campaign on how to defeat Trump
July 2016: The thousands of emails gathered by hackers before the hack was identified are published on WikiLeaks.
Among the emails were some which indicated the Committee had been biased towards Clinton and were unprepared to give her opponent in the primaries, Bernie Sanders, a fair run.
It prompted the resignation of Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz.
Later that month, it is speculated Russian hackers working on behalf of government agencies were behind the attack.
September 2016: Putin denies involvement in DNC hack
Tensions are high between Russia and the West after an escalation in posturing between President Vladimir Putin and Western leaders
EU leaders met last week to consider fresh sanctions over Russian bombing of civilian areas in Aleppo and NATO’s Stoltenberg said he fears the Russian warships heading to the Mediterranean could launch new attacks on the Syrian city.
A Ministry of the Russian Federation for Civil Defence, Emergencies and Elimination of Consequences of Natural Disasters spokesman said at the time: ‘The three-stage four-day drill involves more than 40 million people, more than 200,000 specialists of rescue units based in regions, organizations and enterprises, as well as some 50,000 units of equipment.
‘Management bodies and forces of the Emergency Ministry’s territorial bodies have been put on simulated high alert.
‘Representatives of federal executive authorities, heads of regions, local governments and organisations are taking part in the massive drill.
‘Emergency Ministry’s forces and facilities are fully engaged, including rescue military divisions, rescue units, paramilitary mine rescue units and State Small Vessels Inspectorate, fire departments and aircraft.
‘The topic of the drill is Organization of civil defense during large natural and man-caused disasters in the Russian Federation.’