Obama seeks $1B boost to bolster short-term military presence in Europe Announcement in Poland during three-day European trips comes ahead of Obamas first meeting with new Ukrainian president June 3, 2014 7:40AM ET President Barack Obama unveiled plans Tuesday for a $1 billion initiative to bolster its military presence in Europe, pledging solidarity with its partners in the region amid ongoing tension with Russia over the crisis in Ukraine. Speaking in Warsaw alongside Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski, Obama sought to reassure America’s European allies and called on Congress to help the U.S. fund an effort to increase military ties in the region in the form of further troop movements and more equipment. But the cash injection will be focused on short-term goals, with the president stressing the temporary nature of the initiative. He fell short of promising to permanently bolster its military presence on the continent. “Today, Im announcing a new initiative to bolster the support of our NATO allies here in Europe, Obama said at Warsaws Belweder Palace.” If approved, the funding will be used to increase military exercises and training missions on the continent, as well as rotations of air and ground forces, the White House said. Officials said Obama was also seeking to ramp up U.S. Navy participation in NATO deployments in the Black and Baltic Seas, plus working to boost the military capacity of non-NATO countries that sit on Russias border, including Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova. Obama said he was not interested in threatening Moscow but cautioned that it would take a lot of time to rebuild trust after Russias intervention in Ukraine, adding that the West would prepare further sanctions against Russia if it felt the Kremlin continued activities that were destabilizing to Ukraine. Also in Warsaw as a part of Obama’s trip, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry described how the crisis in Ukraine was at the heart of the president’s trip. “We are here today because this remains a new moment of challenge for all of us,” Kerry told reporters. “Events in Ukraine have unfortunately unleashed forces that we had all hoped had been put away ... were behind us. So it requires new vigilance and it requires clear commitment. Obamas announcement came at the start of a three-country swing through Europe, dedicated to both the unresolved crisis in Ukraine as well as paying tribute to a D- Day anniversary in France. Speaking the day before he was scheduled to meet for the first time with Ukraines newly elected president Petro Poroshenko, Obama said he wants both the U.S. and Ukraine to have good relations in the future with Russia. But in a warning to Moscow, Obama said the U.S. had plans to protect every member of NATO, and has been steadily developing those plans in recent years. Our contingency plans are not just pieces of paper on a shelf, Obama said, adding that the U.S. must and does have the ability to put those plans into effect if needed. NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen hailed Obamas announcement that the U.S. would bolster its presence on the continent. The United States has reacted swiftly after Russias illegal military actions in Ukraine, Rasmussen said as he met with NATO defense ministers in Brussels. And I appreciate that other allies have followed so that we can announce that all 28 allies are now contributing to reassurance measures. Obamas visit to Warsaw coincides with the 25th anniversary of Poland emerging from communism. Obama also planned to meet with Group of 7 leaders in Brussels before heading to France to mark the 70th anniversary of the D-Day invasion that eventually led to Allied victory in World War II. After his meeting with Obama, Poroshenko was also planned to attend the D-Day events on Friday in France, which was also to be attended by Putin and more than a dozen other heads of state. A meeting between the Russian leader and German Chancellor Angela Merkel is slated. And while no meetings between Obama and Putin were on the schedule, some watchers suggested a meeting between the two had not totally been ruled out. Calling his relationship with Putin businesslike during his remarks in Poland, Obama said that while “we are interested in good relations with Russia … further provocation will be met with further costs. The U.S. and Europe have already levied sanctions against Russian officials, but are holding off on further sanctions amid Putins vow to respect the results of Ukraines recent presidential election. Later Tuesday, Obama and Komorowski planned to hold discussions on central European security with leaders from Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Croatia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania and Slovenia.
Posted on: Tue, 03 Jun 2014 17:37:56 +0000
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