Sunday

22nd Sep 2019

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).

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

“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.”

Analysis

How should the EU handle Russia now?

Should West help Russian opposition in its struggle against the regime, or make new deals with Putin, as France is keen to do?

News in Brief

  1. Ireland: right Brexit deal is 'not yet close'
  2. UK secrecy on Brexit holds back wider EU talks
  3. Feminist mass protest in Spain after 19 murders this summer
  4. Global climate strike starts ahead of UN summit
  5. UK Brexit minister to meet Barnier on Friday
  6. Russia-Ukraine gas deal talks show 'progress'
  7. Nobel economist: Ireland 'not good EU citizen' on taxes
  8. Germany takes carbon border tax on board

Column

These are the crunch issues for the 2019-2024 EU commission

These developments will largely determine who will be running the world in the coming decades and perhaps generations. If the Europeans can't find an answer over the five years, they will be toast. And we haven't even mentioned climate change.

Opinion

Time to pay attention to Belarus

Belarus may be hosting the European Games, but Vladimir Putin is not playing games when it comes to Belarus' independence. The West needs to get serious as well.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNew programme studies infectious diseases and antibiotic resistance
  2. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  6. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work
  8. Counter BalanceSign the petition to help reform the EU’s Bank
  9. UNICEFChild rights organisations encourage candidates for EU elections to become Child Rights Champions
  10. UNESDAUNESDA Outlines 2019-2024 Aspirations: Sustainability, Responsibility, Competitiveness
  11. Counter BalanceRecord citizens’ input to EU bank’s consultation calls on EIB to abandon fossil fuels
  12. International Partnership for Human RightsAnnual EU-Turkmenistan Human Rights Dialogue takes place in Ashgabat

Latest News

  1. Europe goes to New York This WEEK
  2. Nine EU 'commissioners' asked to clarify declarations
  3. Dismiss Italy's Salvini at your peril
  4. Malta PM accused of 'blackmail' over slain reporter
  5. Diplomats back Romania's Kovesi for EU top prosecutor
  6. Brexit raises questions for EU defence integration
  7. Low-carbon cities can unlock €21tn by 2050, report finds
  8. France, Italy want 'automatic' distribution of migrants

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNew campaign: spot, capture and share Traces of North
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  4. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  5. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  7. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan
  8. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic talks on parental leave at the UN
  10. International Partnership for Human RightsTrial of Chechen prisoner of conscience and human rights activist Oyub Titiev continues.
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic food policy inspires India to be a sustainable superpower
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us