Hundreds of US tanks, trucks and other military equipment have arrived by ship in Germany to be transported to Eastern Europe as part of a NATO build up that threatens to increase tensions with Russia.

Two shiploads arrived in the northern port of Bremerhaven on Friday and a third was due in a few days, while some 4,000 US troops will join up with the equipment over the next two weeks.

The forces will gather first in Poland, then fan out across seven countries from Estonia to Bulgaria as part of a series of measures aimed at reassuring US allies in Europe after Russia’s 2014 annexation of the Crimea region of Ukraine.

 

“The best way to maintain the peace is through preparation,” US Major General Timothy McGuire told reporters when asked if the large deployment was meant to send a message to Russia.

“This is just showing the strength and cohesion of the alliance and the US commitment to maintain the peace on the continent,” he said.