President Barack Obama has announced plans for a $1bn (£600m) fund to increase US military deployments to Europe, during a visit to Poland. Mr Obama, who met Nato leaders amid concerns over the Ukrainecrisis, said the security of America’s European allies was “sacrosanct”…
In April, 150 US soldiers were sent to Poland for military exercises amid growing tensions with Moscow. BesidesPoland, Mr Obama also visited Belgiumand France during his recent tour. On his arrival in Warsaw, Mr Obama met US and Polish air personnel from a small detachment of F-16 fighter jets based inPoland. Mr Obama said the US commitment to the security of its allies in Europe was “a cornerstone of our own security”. “Given the situation inUkraine right now, we have also increased our American presence. We’ve begun rotating additional ground troops and F-16 aircraft into Poland… to help our forces support Nato air missions,” he said.
‘New security challenges’
The $1bn European Reassurance Initiative he announced, to fund additional US military rotations to Europe, will need Congressional approval. The proposal came “in light of the new security challenges on the continent”, the White House said in a statement, adding: “These efforts will not come at the expense of other defence priorities, such as our commitment to the Asia Pacific rebalance.” Mr Obama’s emphasis on relations with Asian nations has left some Eastern European leaders feeling neglected in recent years, the BBC’s Adam Easton in Warsaw reports.
The crisis in Ukraine has been keenly felt in a region that underwent decades of dominance by Moscow, our correspondent adds. Western leaders have accusedRussia of worsening tensions in eastUkraine. During his trip, Mr Obama also met Poland’s President and Prime Minister, and a group of leaders from central and eastern European Nato countries. In Belgium, the US leader urged Western leaders to reaffirm their united position on Ukraine at a G7 meeting of major industrial nations.The summit had been initially planned in Russia, but Western leaders later decided to boycott it following Moscow’s annexation of Crimea in March.
In France, Mr Obama was to take part in ceremonies to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings in Normandy. President Vladimir Putin was also invited, but the White House has already made it clear that the American and Russian leaders will not hold formal bilateral talks. Washington and its European allies have repeatedly urged Moscow to de-escalate tensions in eastern Ukraine, where fighting has continued between separatists and Government troops. Recently, hundreds of rebels attacked a border command centre near the eastern city of Luhansk. The Kremlin denies Western claims that it is supporting the Ukrainian rebels.