Pending formal approval by NATO, the Pentagon is poised to begin storing heavy weapons, including tanks and infantry fighting vehicles, for as many as 5,000 U.S. troops in several Baltic and Eastern European countries. The proposal which would not include stationing U.S. troops in those countries-has gained new support because of fears among the eastern NATO allies, particularly after Russian intervention in Ukraine.

The prepositioned equipment would be located in three former Soviet Baltic nations of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, and in the former Warsaw Pact countries of Poland, Romania, Bulgaria and possibly Hungary. If implemented, it would be the first time since the end of the Cold War that the United States has stationed heavy military equipment in newer NATO member nations that had once been part of the Soviet Union.

In the wake of Russia’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimea in March 2014, the proposal, seeks to reassure European allies. It is expected to be approved by US Defence Secretary Ash Carter and the White House before a NATO defence ministers’ meeting in Brussels this month.

Russian President Vladimir Putin told an Italian newspaper last week that his country was “not a threat to the West” and that he was still committed to a Ukraine peace deal. Still, the US military continues to review the best location to store these materials even though no final decision has been made whether to store them and where they would be stored.