President Obama told Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski and the press the U..S will increase its military presence in Eastern Europe due to the Ukraine and Russia crisis. The plan will cost around $1 billion if Congress approves the funding.
“Today, I’m announcing a new initiative to bolster the support of our NATO allies here in Europe,” said Obama. “Under this effort, and with the support of Congress, the United States will preposition more equipment in Europe.”
The U.S. Navy will participate in more NATO deployments in the Black and Baltic Seas and help the militaries of non-NATO countries that border Russia, such as Ukraine, Georgia, and Moldova. Obama also told other NATO countries they need to step in and provide security help in Eastern Europe. Obama told Russia that America has a plan to protect NATO allies and will be ready to use the plans as necessary.
“Our contingency plans are not just pieces of paper on a shelf,” he said.
Recently, Russia threatened Sweden and Finland with consequences if either country joins NATO. Moscow told the countries it would be better for them to have close relations with Russia, and a relationship with NATO would be a security threat to Russia. Moscow did not explain how or why such a relationship would be a threat, but Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Russia Nikolai Yegorovich Makarov asked why Finland had to conduct military exercises in their own country.
Komorowski said Poland is happy with America’s decision.
“The U.S. authorities’ decisions to increase the level of presence in NATO’s eastern members are incredibly important,” he said. “We welcome them as an announcement of a real return by NATO to standing very strongly by the basis of the alliance, which is article 5, which speaks about the collective defense of the countries’ territories.”
“For us it is most important that it is made clear that there are no second-rate NATO members. That there are no countries that are told by some outside countries, particularly Russia, whether U.S. forces can or cannot be stationed there,” he continued.
France, a NATO country, announced it will uphold a contract with Russia to sell Mistral helicopter carriers. Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski told France the country should cancel the contract.
“No, because Russian generals have already said what these ships will be used for: to threaten Russia’s neighbours in the Black Sea and that means Europe’s partners. I don’t think France would want to be in the position of supplying efficient weapons to an aggressor,” he said.
On Wednesday, Obama will commemorate Poland’s 25th anniversary from breaking away from communism and will be joined by Ukraine’s President-elect Petro Poroshenko. On Thursday there is a meeting in Brussels with the G-7 leaders, while Friday is the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings. Russian President Vladimir Putin will be in attendance, but Obama has not made any plans to meet one-on-one with him. The Kremlin made it clear Putin will not meet with Poroshenko despite promises to work closely with Ukraine’s new president.