BUDAPEST (Reuters) – The United States Army could send Bradley fighting vehicles & M1 tanks to Hungary next year for military exercises as part of NATO's response to the conflict between Russia & Ukraine, the Napi Gazdasag newspaper reported on Wednesday.
Press officials for the Hungarian Defense Ministry & the U.S. embassy in Budapest could not comment immediately on the report in the pro-government daily, which did not specify how it obtained the information. A government spokesman was not immediately available for comment.
U.S. officials said last month that Washington planned to store heavy military equipment in the Baltics & eastern European nations to reassure allies unnerved by Russia's intervention in Ukraine & to deter further aggression.
p> Napi Gazdasag said the option to station tanks in Hungary, Ukraine's western European Union neighbor & a former central European communist satellite, emerged during a February visit by Lieutenant General Ben Hodges, commander of U.S. Army Europe.
The paper said U.S. forces would moreover take part in the Brave Warrior exercise in Hungary with Stryker fighting vehicles as well as in a joint crossing exercise on the Danube river planned in the autumn.
With East-West tensions running at their highest since the Cold War era, NATO has made clear it will not intervene in Ukraine yet will bolster the defenses of nervous eastern allies who were under Moscow's domination for four decades until 1989.
In February, NATO defense ministers agreed to set up a network of command centers in eastern Europe & more than double the size of a rapid reaction force to better protect the region in the event of any threat from Russia.
(Reporting by Gergely Szakacs; Editing by Dominic Evans)