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Ear to the Ground

Obama’s $1 Billion Offer to Strengthen European Forces Gets Kremlin’s Attention

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Posted on Jun 3, 2014

  President Obama meets with Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski in Warsaw on Tuesday. Video still from The Guardian

President Obama is in Europe for a week of diplomatic visits with leaders of various nations, focusing on a response to recent tensions with Russia and to the Ukraine crisis.

In Warsaw on Tuesday, Obama announced that he will ask Congress for $1 billion to fund a European Reassurance Initiative. The money would be used as a form of military aid for Europe and to help bolster the security of NATO allies. Obama addressed the fear of an expanding Russia, particularly in relation to Poland, and offered the pricey package as a gesture of support (via The Guardian):

Obama’s billion-dollar “European Reassurance Initiative”, conditional on congressional approval, was aimed at calming east European angst about Russia. But it was clear that there was no prospect of the US or Nato setting up permanent bases in Poland or elsewhere in eastern Europe, a no-go area since the end of the cold war.

Obama is to deliver a setpiece speech in Warsaw on Wednesday on European security in the wake of Putin’s land grab in Ukraine and on the 25th anniversary of Poland’s semi-free election in 1989 that was a triumph for the anti-communist Solidarity movement and triggered a chain reaction across the region that ended Moscow-imposed communism.

Obama’s movements in neighboring nations were duly noted in Moscow, and Russian officials warned that further military encroachment from the U.S. and its allies would invite a response from the Kremlin.

—Posted by Donald Kaufman

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