US has announced that it will spread about 250 tanks, armoured vehicles and other military equipment across six European nations, including the Baltic states, to help reassure NATO allies facing threats from Russia and armed groups.

Ash Carter, the US defence secretary, said on Tuesday that the equipment would go at least on a temporary basis to Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Romania. 

"We intend to move those equipment sets around as exercises move around," Carter said. "They are not static. Their purpose is to enable richer training and more mobility to forces in Europe."

He said the US presence would be "persistent" but "agile".


RELATED: Putin says Russia is beefing up its nuclear arsenal


A day earlier, Carter also announced that US would be contributing weapons, aircraft and forces, including commandos, to NATO's new rapid reaction force to help Europe defend against potential Russian aggression from the east, and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and other armed groups from the south.

The US  is also going to work with NATO's cyber centre, located in Estonia, to help allies develop cyber defence strategies and other protections against computer-based attacks, said Carter.

He also expressed the readiness of the US to provide intelligence and surveillance capabilities, special operations forces, logistics, transport aircraft and a range of weapons support that could include bombers, fighters and ship-based missiles if requested and approved by the European countries.

It woud not provide a large ground force, he said.


RELATED: Vladimir Putin says Russia not a threat to the West


Russia's annexation of Crimea from Ukraine last year has jangled nerves in Europe, with Baltic and Nordic countries reporting an uptick in Russian military activity over the past year.

However, Russian President Vladimir Putin said earlier in June  that his country was "not a threat to the West", ruling out a major conflict between Russia and NATO member countries.

But he said Moscow would develop "systems to overpower anti-missile defences" to ensure a stategic balance in case NATO and US beefed up their presence at Russia's borders.

Several days later, Putin announced that his country would add more than 40 new intercontinental ballistic missiles to its nuclear arsenal this year.

Putin also noted that the military was to start testing its new long-range early warning radar intented to monitor the western direction.

Source: AP