Wednesday

18th Jul 2018

US to close 15 military bases in EU despite Russia crisis

  • The closures will see the overall figure of US troops stay more or less the same (Photo: Air Combat Command)

The US plans to close 15 Cold War-era military bases in Europe despite the Russia crisis, but net troop numbers will remain more or less the same.

The biggest shutdown is a US air base in Mildenhall, UK, which will see 2,000 military and civilian personnel go home.

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.

... our join as a group

But the move will be offset by an extra 1,200 personnel at the Lakenheath air base, which will host two new squadrons of F-35 fighter jets from 2020.

The UK will see US troops move from the Alconbury and Molesworth bases to a site in Croughton.

Germany is to lose seven bases - Mainz Kastel, Barton Barracks, Weilimdorf, Baumholder, Wiesbaden, Pirmasens, and Illesheim/Sembach. But other changes will see a net increase in 500 US troops.

The US will also: move troops from Brussels to Sterrebeek in Belgium; sell the Emma Mine site in the Netherlands; partly close the Pisa Ammo and Camp Darby facilities in Italy; and “streamline operations” at Lajes in Portugal.

The Pentagon said net numbers will go up by 200 in Italy, but go down by 500 in Portugal. The overall figure in the EU - 64,000 personnel - will stay more or less the same.

The restructuring is to cost $1.4 billion but save $500 million a year.

Meanwhile, the Pentagon is due to ask Congress for a budget of $51 billion for Overseas Contingency Operations, also known as “war funding”, for the year starting 1 October.

The figure is down from $64 billion for the current period.

But total defence spending is to stay at over $600 billion - more than China, Russia, Saudi Arabia, France, the UK, Germany, Japan, and India put together.

Congressmen have also approved a $985 million “European Reassurance Initiative” to build up militaries in Ukraine, Georgia, and Moldova, among other states.

US defence chief Chuck Hagel said on Thursday (8 January) the closure of the Cold War-era facilities doesn’t mean the US is letting down its EU allies.

“This transformation of our infrastructure will help maximse our military capabilities in Europe and help strengthen our important European partnerships, so that we can best support our Nato allies and partners in the region”, he noted.

His deputy, Derek Chollet, told press: “These decisions will produce savings that will enable us to maintain a robust force presence in Europe”.

The US defence department added, following Hagel’s meeting with Slovak defence minister Martin Glvac in Washington the same day, that “the US and Slovakia continue to present a united front with Nato to deal with Russia's aggressive behaviour”.

The US measures come amid new hopes of an end to the Russian crisis caused, for the main part, by Russia’s inability to pay for military adventures due to the rouble crash.

International ratings agencies are expected to further downgrade Russian bonds in the coming days.

But according to financial newswire Bloomberg, the cost of insuring Russian debt against non-repayment is already the fifth highest in the world, after countries such as Lebanon, Egypt, and Portugal.

Good cop, bad cop

For his part, French president Francois Hollande has set great hopes on a meeting of French, German, Russian, and Ukrainian leaders in Kazakhstan later this month.

He said, earlier this week, that EU sanctions on Russia must “stop” if the summit agrees a Russian pull-back from east Ukraine.

But German chancellor Angela Merkel took a tougher line following her meeting with Ukrainian PM Arseniy Yatsenyuk in Berlin also on Thursday.

She told press the meeting is Astana is “possible” but not certain.

She also said Russia must fully comply with the Minsk protocol - a set of 15 ceasefire measures agreed in Belarus last year - if there is to be any EU sanctions relief.

“We have had road maps before and they weren’t adhered to”, she noted.

“You can’t say, we will lift 10 percent of sanctions for the line of control, or 20 percent if some other point is met … I think we need to see the entire Minsk agreement implemented before we can say that sanctions will be lifted”.

Nato colonel sheds light on Russia 'psy-ops'

The man who helped Nato sell its message to the public says the West needs a robust response to Russia's increasingly sophisticated psychological warfare.

EU and Japan wave light in Trump's 'darkness'

EU leaders and Japanese prime minister signed a series of agreements, including the EU's biggest trade deal ever, designed as an answer to the disruption of the world order by the US president.

Opinion

EU must create safe, legal pathways to Europe

As the rapporteur for the European Parliament on an EU regulation on resettlement, my colleagues and I have outlined an effective plan based on solidarity and humanitarian principles.

News in Brief

  1. EU will reply 'tit for tat' to US trade measures
  2. EU Commission registers Brexit citizenship petition
  3. EU launches pre-accession probe for Albania and Macedonia
  4. Google faces multibillion euro EU fine for Android
  5. EU wants more guarantees from VW on Dieselgate fix
  6. EU to Russia: take responsibility for MH17 attack
  7. Juncker to meet Trump on 25 July
  8. EU and Japan sign trade and data deals

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. IPHRCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  2. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  4. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  6. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  8. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma
  9. PKEE - Polish Energy AssociationCommon-Sense Approach Needed for EU Energy Reform
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to Lead in Developing and Rolling Out 5G Network
  11. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Economic and Trade Relations Enjoy a Bright Future
  12. ACCAEmpowering Businesses to Engage with Sustainable Finance and the SDGs

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersCooperation in Nordic Electricity Market Considered World Class Model
  2. FIFAGreen Stadiums at the 2018 Fifa World Cup
  3. Mission of China to the EUChina and EU Work Together to Promote Sustainable Development
  4. Counter BalanceEuropean Ombudsman Requests More Lending Transparency from European Investment Bank
  5. FIFARecycling at the FIFA World Cup in Russia
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersOECD Report: Gender Equality Boosts GDP Growth in Nordic Region
  7. Centre Maurits Coppieters“Peace and Reconciliation Is a Process That Takes Decades” Dr. Anthony Soares on #Brexit and Northern Ireland
  8. Mission of China to the EUMEPs Positive on China’s New Measures of Opening Up
  9. Macedonian Human Rights MovementOld White Men are Destroying Macedonia by Romanticizing Greece
  10. Counter BalanceControversial EIB-Backed Project Under Fire at European Parliament
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersIncome Inequality Increasing in Nordic Countries
  12. European Jewish CongressEU Leaders to Cease Contact with Mahmoud Abbas Until He Apologizes for Antisemitic Comments

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us