Monday

27th Feb 2017

US unveils $1bn European security plan

The US has unveiled plans to invest $1 billion in European security in light of the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

The so-called European Reassurance Initiative, if passed by Congress, is to see more US troops posted to eastern Europe on a temporary basis, greater US involvement in Nato drills in the region, and extra US warships in the Baltic Sea and the Black Sea.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

  • Obama spoke next to US jets posted in Poland as a reaction to the Ukraine crisis (Photo: White House)

It will also help build military capacity in three pro-Western former Soviet states: Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine.

US President Barack Obama unveiled the plan while in Warsaw on Tuesday (3 June) on the first leg of a European tour.

Speaking at an airport which houses US jets sent to Poland to patrol Nato's border with Russia, he said: "I'm starting the visit here because our commitment to Poland's security, as well as the security of our allies in central and eastern Europe, is a cornerstone of our own security and it is sacrosanct."

"Given the situation in Ukraine right now, we have [already] increased our American presence".

He accused Russian leader Vladimir Putin of trying to stop Ukrainian people from "choosing their own destiny" by integrating with the EU.

"We have always been interested in good relations with Russia, not with threatening Russia ... but we recognise that the principles of territorial integrity and sovereignty are important and that Russia has violated them," he said.

"There are times where we have governments in the Western hemisphere that are not particularly friendly to us and we may make very clear that we don’t like their policies, but under my administration we don’t go around and try to overthrow those governments, or to finance or supply armed efforts to undermine those governments. That’s not what we do."

Obama noted he is likely to bump into Putin at a D-Day commemoration in France later this week.

He is not scheduled to hold talks with the Russian leader, unlike the French President and the British PM.

But the US President said he "expects and hopes" that Francois Hollande and David Cameron will put pressure on Putin to pull back troops from the Ukrainian border, call off pro-Russia fighters in east Ukraine, and talk to Ukraine's new authorities.

Speaking alongside Obama, Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski said Russia has no right to complain if the US builds up its presence in Poland.

"We deny the right of anyone outside Nato to decide whether we can decide internally to do something or not to do it," he noted. "It's difficult not to notice that something has changed along Nato's eastern border," he added, referring to Russia's actions in Ukraine and its recent hike in military spending.

Obama was in Warsaw to celebrate Freedom Day – the 25th anniversary of Poland's first post-Communist elections in 1989.

Both he and Komorowski made the point that Russia's drift toward authoritarianism at home stands in contrast to trends in the rest of Europe.

Obama said: "Governments that pursue repressive policies, over time, those governments will fail because they don't represent the aspirations of the people."

Komorowski said the "examples" of democratisation in Ukraine and Poland ought to "have a huge impact" on Russian society: "Public opinion in Russia should stand on the side of support for the modernisation of Russia, and not the creation of any zones of influence or dreams of empire."

Poland wants more

Obama's $1 billion plan, to start in 2015, is likely to disappoint Poland, which would prefer to see the installation of permanent new Nato infrastructure in the region.

A White House communique on the European Reassurance Initiative noted the US already has 67,000 soldiers in Europe.

It said: "In addition to this initiative, we are reviewing our [permanent] force presence in Europe in light of the new security challenges on the continent." But it warned that: "These efforts will not come at the expense of other defense priorities, such as our commitment to the Asia Pacific rebalance."

Meanwhile, Obama said his main priority in Ukraine is not military, but financial assistance. "We're going to spend a lot of time on the economics of Ukraine," he noted, referring to his planned meeting with Ukraine's new pro-Western leader, Petro Poroshenko, in Poland later in the day.

For his part, Nato chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen sent out a similar message.

He said in Brussels on Tuesday at the start of a Nato defence chiefs meeting: "We call on Russia to return Crimea to Ukraine."

He also urged Putin to remove the "tens of thousands" of Russian troops still massed on Ukraine's border and to end his support for "armed thugs" in east Ukraine.

He added, however: "We are not discussing any military options. We do believe the right way forward is a political and diplomatic solution to the crisis."

Agenda

Obama back in Brussels this WEEK

US President Obama is back in the EU capital this week for a summit of G7 wealthy nations to be dominated by Ukraine.

Feature

Armenia-Azerbaijan war: line of contact

“Front-line coffee is the best coffee in the world”, an Armenian soldier told EUobserver, with morale a key asset in the conflict.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Partnership for Human RightsFreedom of Association and Expression Under Threat in Kazakhstan, Reports CIVICUS Monitor
  2. QS World MBA TourMeet with Leading International Business Schools in Brussels on March 6th
  3. EURORDISJoin Rare Disease Day and Help Advocate for More Research on Rare Diseases
  4. European Healthy Lifestyle AllianceStudents Who Are Considered Fit Get Better Grades in School
  5. QS World MBA TourMeet with Leading International Business Schools in Paris on March 4th
  6. Malta EU 2017Economic Governance: Agreement Reached on Structural Reform Support Programme for Member States
  7. Socialists & DemocratsWomen Have to Work Ten Years Longer to Match Lifetime Earnings of Men
  8. Counter BalanceTrans-Adriatic Pipeline Is a Major Risk for Banks, Warns New Analysis
  9. Martens CentreEU and US Migration Policies Compared: Join the Debate on February 28th
  10. Swedish EnterprisesTechnology and Data Flows - Shaping the Society of Tomorrow
  11. UNICEFNearly 1.4 Million Children at Risk of Death as Famine Looms Across Africa and Yemen
  12. Malta EU 2017End of Roaming Fees: Council Reaches Agreement on Wholesale Caps

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Innovation House Opens in New York to Help Startups Access US Market
  2. Centre Maurits CoppietersMinorities and Migrations
  3. Salzburg Global SeminarThe Child in the City: Health, Parks and Play
  4. UNICEFNumber of Ukrainian Children Needing Aid Nearly Doubles to 1 Million Over the Past Year
  5. Centre Maurits CoppietersThe Situation of Refugee Women in Europe
  6. Salzburg Global SeminarToward a Shared Culture of Health: Charting the Patient-Clinician Relationship
  7. European Free AllianceAustria Should Preserve & Promote Bilingual and Multinational Carinthia
  8. Martens CentreShow Your Love for Democracy! Take Part in Our Contest: "If It's Broken, Let's Fix It"
  9. CISPECloud Computing Leaders Establish Data Protection Standards to Protect Customer Data
  10. Malta EU 2017Landmark Deal Reached With European Parliament on Portability of Online Content
  11. Belgrade Security ForumBSF 2017: Building a Common Future in the Age of Uncertainty
  12. CESIEU Not to Revise the Working Time Directive