MIHAIL KOGALNICEANU, Romania — 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."

Soldiers from 1st Battalion, 8th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, unload their bags Feb. 4, 2017, at Mihail Kogalniceanu Air Base in Romania. The soldiers arrived in Romania from Poland where they had spent the previous month training and getting certified on their weapons systems. 1st Bn., 8th Inf. Regt will spend the next eight-months training in Romania and Bulgaria in support of Operation Atlantic Resolve.

Photo Credit: Staff Sgt. Corinna Baltos/Army

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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