Saturday

18th Nov 2017

Obama pledges to defend Poland's security

  • Shuttle diplomacy: Obama left for Brussels for a G7 summit on Wednesday and Thursday before going to France for a WWII anniversary (Photo: whitehouse.gov)

US leader Barack Obama has promised to defend Poland and other Nato allies against potential Russian aggression.

“I’ve come to Warsaw today - on behalf of the United States, on behalf of the Nato alliance - to reaffirm our unwavering commitment to Poland’s security. [The Nato treaty’s] Article 5 is clear - an attack on one is an attack on all,” he said in a speech in the Polish capital on Wednesday (4 June).

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

“Poland will never stand alone. But not just Poland - Estonia will never stand alone. Latvia will never stand alone. Lithuania will never stand alone. Romania will never stand alone,” he added.

“These are not just words. They’re unbreakable commitments backed by the strongest alliance in the world and the armed forces of the United States of America.”

He did not name Russia as the potential aggressor.

He noted that Nato's recent decision to send extra units to eastern Europe is “not [meant] to threaten any nation” and he spoke of “growing trade” with Russia if relations improve.

But he spoke amid concern that Russia could stir trouble beyond Ukraine to test Nato solidarity.

Obama criticised Russia’s "dark tactics" and its "aggression in Ukraine”.

“Bigger nations must not be allowed to bully the small, or impose their will at the barrel of a gun or with masked men taking over buildings. And the stroke of a pen can never legitimise the theft of a neighbour’s land,” he said, referring to its attack on east Ukraine and its annexation of Crimea.

He spoke on the 25th anniversary of Poland’s first post-Communist election and compared the Polish Cold War struggle to Ukraine’s pro-Western revolution.

“The Ukrainians of today are the heirs of Solidarity - men and women like you who dared to challenge a bankrupt regime,” he said.

Obama on Wednesday morning also met with Ukraine’s new leader, Petro Poroshenko.

He told press afterward: "It’s clear that he understands the aspirations and the hopes of the Ukrainian people ... and I have been deeply impressed by his vision, in part because of his experience as a businessman, in understanding what’s required to help Ukraine grow."

He noted the US is helping to "train and professionalise" the Ukrainian army.

The White House the same day published details of US military aid so far.

It has earmarked $23 million for non-lethal assistance since the outbreak of the Russia-Ukraine conflict. The latest tranche is being spent on body armour, night vision goggles, and communications equipment. Previous money went on: meal kits for Ukrainian soldiers; medical supplies; helmets; barbed wire; bomb-disposal equipment; binoculars; flashlights; and walkie-talkies.

But speaking to the Reuters news agency in Brussels on Wednesday, Nato military chief Philip Breedlove said Ukraine wants more.

"They have asked for everything from command and control, communications, help with cyber, help with kinetic capabilities [weapons], help with training, to developing their national guard forces," he said.

"That [sending weapons] is being discussed and it is inappropriate to remark [on it] at this time".

Crowd pleaser

Obama’s speech pleased the crowd in Warsaw’s Old City, which interrupted with applause on several occasions.

It was also welcomed by the Polish establishment. “Moving and powerful speech,” Polish foreign minister Radek Sikroski tweeted.

But Sikorski, in an interview with the New York Times on Tuesday, also asked the US for more.

Obama has promised to send extra troops to eastern Europe, but on a “rotational” basis until the Russia crisis ends, while Poland wants permanent new Nato facilities.

“There are major [Nato] bases in Britain, in Spain, in Portugal, in Greece, in Italy … Why not here?” Sikorski told the US daily.

“Russia is testing the strength of the international system set up by the United States after World War II. She tested it in Georgia [in the 2008 war], which was an implied ally of the United States. She has now tested it in Ukraine. And I don’t think we can discount the possibility that she will test it again.”

MEPs ponder how to fight tax havens

After the Paradise Papers brought new revelations about tax dodging across the globe, including in the EU, the European Parliament wonders how to step up the fight.

News in Brief

  1. Bonn climate talks extend into Friday evening
  2. UK needs to move on Brexit by early December, Tusk says
  3. Puigdemont extradition decision postponed to December
  4. Ireland wants written UK guarantees to avoid hard border
  5. US did not obstruct climate talks, says German minister
  6. EU signs social declaration
  7. Puigdemont to be heard by Belgian judges
  8. Steep fall in migrants reaching EU

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Jewish CongressAntisemitism in Europe Today: Is It Still a Threat to Free and Open Society?
  2. Counter BalanceNew Report: Juncker Plan Backs Billions in Fossil Fuels and Carbon-Heavy Infrastructure
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic countries prioritise fossil fuel subsidy reform
  4. Mission of China to the EUNew era for China brings new opportunities to all
  5. ACCASmall and Medium Sized Practices Must 'Offer the Whole Package'
  6. UNICEFAhead of the African Union - EU Summit, Survey Highlights Impact of Conflict on Education
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council Calls for Closer Co-Operation on Foreign Policy
  8. Swedish EnterprisesTrilogue Negotiations - Striking the Balance Between Transparency and Efficiency
  9. Access EuropeProspects for US-EU Relations Under the Trump Administration - 28 November 2017
  10. World Vision20 November: Exchange of Views at the EP on Children Affected by the Syria Crisis
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersSustainable Growth the Nordic Way: Climate Solutions for a Sustainable Future
  12. EU2017EEHow Data Fuels Estonia's Economy

Latest News

  1. EU keeps former Soviet states at arm's length
  2. EU leaders make pledge on social issues after populist backlash
  3. EU agencies and eastern neighbours This WEEK
  4. Germany slams Dutch call for more ambitious EU climate goal
  5. Mind the gap: inequality in our cities
  6. Climate activists 'disappointed' with EU at climate talks
  7. Davis outlines UK vision on Brexit in Berlin
  8. German coalition talks in near collapse