Five hundred U.S. troops began to arrive in a Romanian Black Sea port with tanks and hardware to bolster defense in this East European NATO nation.

The U.S. Embassy said the “Fighting Eagles,” 1st Battalion, 8th Infantry Regiment, will be stationed in the Mihail Kogalniceanu air base in eastern Romania, on a rotational basis.

U.S. Ambassador Hans G. Klemm said Tuesday the development underscored that “the strong U.S.-Romania strategic partnership exists in both word and deed.”

He said the presence “expands our capacity … in maintaining peace and security in southeastern Europe and the Black Sea region.”

NATO’s ties with Moscow deteriorated after Russia annexed Crimea in 2014 and supported a pro-Russian insurgency. NATO since has increased military exercises in Eastern Europe to reassure allies.

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