UK & World News

  • 3 June 2014, 18:43

US Pledges $1bn To Boost Military In Europe

Barack Obama has promised $1bn (597m) to bolster its military influence in Europe amid worries of more land grabs by the Kremlin.

The US president said extra military equipment would be sent to the region in the wake of the crisis in Ukraine, and that more American troops would take part in military exercises.

"We need to make sure that the collective defence ... is robust, it is ready, it is properly equipped," Mr Obama told a news conference in Warsaw's Belweder Palace.

"Today, I'm announcing a new initiative to bolster the support of our Nato allies here in Europe.

"Under this effort, and with the support of Congress, the US will preposition more equipment in Europe."

There are worries that states on Russia's western borders could be at threat after the country took control of Ukraine's Crimean peninsula.

Mr Obama's plan also proposes more regular naval deployments in the Black Sea and Baltic Sea, right on Russia's doorstep.

No announcement was made on permanent US troop deployments in Europe but the White House said it would review the matter.

It said: "These efforts will not come at the expense of other defence priorities, such as our commitment to the Asia Pacific rebalance."

The extra $1bn will also help boost the defence capability of Western-friendly states bordering Russia, such as Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova. For example, through extra training for their troops.

The European Reassurance Initiative - as the plan is called - must first be signed off by the US Congress.

Mr Obama was speaking at a joint news conference with Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski at he beginning of a four-day visit to Europe.

He also urged other Nato members to do more to help the alliance's defence role, although he admitted the US had to play the biggest role.

Nato states have a target of spending 2% of GDP on defence, but many lag behind.

"Everyone has the capacity to do their fair share, to do a proportional amount to make sure we have the resources, the planning, the integration, the training in order to be effective," said Mr Obama.

The US leader's remarks come ahead of a potential meeting with Russia President Vladimir Putin at D-Day commemorations in France.

The pair have no meeting scheduled but White House officials have not ruled one out. The men have not met since the Ukraine crisis began.

"Mr Putin has a choice to make," Mr Obama said, speaking about the Russian leader reining in pro-Kremlin troops in Ukraine.

"That's what I will tell him if I see him publicly. That's what I have told him privately."

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