Germany sent tanks to Lithuania Tuesday as part of a NATO operation to bolster European military forces along Russia’s borders and act as a deterrent against Russian aggression, according to reports.
The ongoing operation would see the mass movement of 200 vehicles, including 30 tanks, as well as 450 soldiers to Lithuania, which shares western and eastern borders with Russia. The mission was scheduled for completion late next month and coincides with Monday’s large-scale mobilization of thousands of U.S. soldiers and heavy weaponry to Poland, which also shares an extensive border with Russia.
Last year, NATO agreed on securing greater protection against Russia’s military expansion in the region. Tensions between Moscow and a number of European governments have been high since Russia annexed the neighboring former Ukrainian territory of Crimea and began supporting separatist rebels within Ukraine. Washington, by far NATO’s biggest financial sponsor, was deeply critical of Russia’s foreign policy throughout former President Barack Obama’s administration and pushed for a stronger Western military presence along Russia’s borders in addition to placing economic sanctions on Moscow.