US tanks
U.S. tanks, trucks and other military equipment, which arrived by ship, are unloaded in the harbour of Bremerhaven, Germany January 8, 2017REUTERS/Fabian Bimmer

US tanks and armoured vehicles along with over 3,000 US soldiers begin arriving in Poland on Thursday, (12 January). The deployment, which falls under Operation Atlantic Resolve, is the largest exercise of US troops in Europe in decades.

Hundreds of armoured vehicles and over 80 main battle tanks have already arrived in Germany and are reportedly being moved by road and rail to Eastern Europe.

Operation Atlantic Resolve is a mission to show Moscow that Washington is committed to protecting its allies in Eastern Europe. It was launched in the aftermath of Russia annexing Crimea, which triggered fears that Moscow could move to make a similar land grab in Eastern Europe.

The US Armoured Brigade will also reportedly conduct military exercises in the Baltics. The exercise is a part of President Barack Obama's plan to ease tensions among Nato allies who are concerned about Russian aggression. According to reports, the forces will rotate every nine months.

Tanks and other materials will eventually be stationed in Poland, Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, Romania and Hungary.

Lieutenant General. Tim Ray, Deputy Commander of US European Command said, "These forces here were a direct response to the destabilizing efforts of the Russian government in the Ukraine,"

The tanks and armoured vehicles also arrive only days ahead of inauguration of Donald Trump, who hinted that he wants to improve relations with Russia. It also raises questions if this increased military posture will continue after Trump is sworn into office.

The attitude of the incoming administration towards Russia will likely be raised in the Senate confirmation hearing of General James Mattis, who is nominated by Trump to be the Secretary of Defense.