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'Going Big': US Deploys Tanks and Artillery to Bulgaria

© AP Photo / The U.S. ArmyUS tank M1 Abrams
US tank M1 Abrams - Sputnik International
The US military has deployed new tanks, artillery and vehicles to Bulgaria as part of its operation to "reassure allies" in the region.

The US military sent four Abrams tanks, three artillery cannons and six light armored reconnaissance vehicles to Bulgaria on Monday in what one Heritage Foundation fellow called a "message to Russia," Military Times reported.

The tanks, artillery and vehicles were sent to the Novo Selo training range in eastern Bulgaria, where they will join 160 US Marines stationed at the base as part of US operations in the country. The US has previously announced plans to stockpile growing volumes of equipment including tanks and artillery in the Baltic states which border Russia.

"Because this seed has been planted through these exercises and rotations, it makes 'going big' go that much easier," Heritage Foundation fellow Luke Coffey, a former Army captain told Military Times of the rotations.

Soldiers from NATO countries attend an opening ceremony of military exercise 'Saber Strike 2015'. - Sputnik International
Putin: Bulgaria's NATO Membership Does Not Bother Russia
On Monday, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that Bulgaria's NATO membership does not worry Russia and that Russia seeks to develop closer relations with the country despite previous difficulties over the Austria-bound South Stream Pipeline.

Russia canceled the project in 2014 and is developing an alternate route through Turkey and Bulgaria's western neighbor Macedonia, which has recently been racked with armed and political unrest.

According to Military Times, the tanks, artillery and vehicles are meant for a "new Bulgaria-based unit designed to deter Russian aggression." In June, an explosion rocked a Bulgarian military complex, killing one and injuring four at a facility which was preparing weapons for shipments to Syrian rebels. According to Military Times, Monday's deployment is part of the first of three US Marine Corps rotations in the Bulgaria.

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