US considering storing heavy military equipment in Eastern Europe

The United States is considering storing heavy military weaponry and equipment in several Baltic and Eastern European countries, officials said Saturday.

The proposal is said to send a strong message to Russian President Vladimir Putin that the U.S. will come to the defense of its NATO allies in Eastern Europe.

The move was first reported in The New York Times Saturday.

Tensions are already high in Eastern Europe following Russia’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula and the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.

The Times says Defense Secretary Ash Carter and the White House must approve the proposal that would send the equipment and weaponry to Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania and possibly Hungary.

“If something happens, we can’t wait days or weeks for more equipment,” Raimonds Vejonis, Latvia’s minister of defense told The New York Times.  “We need to react immediately.”

If approved, the proposal would lead to placing heavy military equipment in several countries that were once under Soviet influence for the first time since the end of the Cold War.