Tanks, heavy artillery and almost 3,000 US soldiers have arrived in Poland to face down Russia.
The deployment – codenamed Atlantic Resolve – is the largest US military reinforcement in decades.
Its stated aim is protecting Eastern Europe from Russian invasion.
But Russia has warned it considers the force “a threat” – and has moved S-400 Triumph anti-aircraft missile systems around Moscow in response.
“We consider this a threat to us”
Poland and the Baltic former Soviet Republics requested US and NATO troops after Putin seized Crimea from Ukraine in 2014.
US Army Colonel Christopher Norrie, commander of the 3rd Armoured Brigade Combat Team, said: “The main goal of our mission is deterrence and prevention of threats.”
But Russia said it considers the deployment as aggression along its border.
Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said: “We consider this a threat to us.
“We are talking here about a third country stepping up its military presence in Europe near our borders.”
Polish defence minister Antoni Macierewicz said the NATO deployment puts an end to Russia’s influence in the region.
He said: ”Even after 1989 we had to continuously wonder whether the Russians won’t veto this or that action.
“Russia’s veto power in Central Europe, in Poland, has ended once and for all.”
Moscow, however, has already deployed in nuclear-capable Iskander missiles in its European exclave of Kaliningrad in response to the new super army.
The US deployment to NATO’s eastern flank includes more than 80 main battle tanks and hundreds of armoured vehicles.
The military units will rotate through several countries, including Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Romania.
Colonel Norrie said: ”Their arrival is just one small but meaningful example of how we are quickly building combat power here.”
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