US Soldiers on training in Europe

The Pentagon is to propose quadrupling its budget for European defence in 2017 in the light of “Russian aggression”, US Defence Secretary Ash Carter says.

He described Russia as a growing challenge for the US.

Relations between Russia and the West have plummeted since Russia annexed the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea in March 2014.

On Europe, Mr Carter said increased funds would allow greater numbers of troops to be deployed to European bases, as well as more training and exercises with allies.

We’re taking a strong and balanced approach to deter Russian aggression

“We haven’t had to worry about this for 25 years, and while I wish it were otherwise, now we do”, he said.

The Pentagon’s proposed 2017 defence budget will include $3.4bn for its European Reassurance Initiative – up from $789m for the current budget year.

The initiative is to demonstrate US commitment to its Nato allies in Europe amid increasing concern about Russia’s intentions after its military involvement in Ukraine.

On a trip to Eastern Europe last year, Mr Carter announced that the US would position 250 tanks, armoured vehicles and other military equipment across six former Soviet bloc nations.