Wednesday, June 04, 2014

U.S. pledges $1B to boost military presence in E. Europe, urges NATO allies to boost funding --- WARSAW — President Obama pledged his ironclad commitment Tuesday to the defense of Europe and proposed as much as $1 billion in additional spending to bolster the U.S. military presence in Poland and neighboring countries, part of a strategy to reassure nervous allies and check Russia’s encroachment into the region. -- Standing beside Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski at the start of a four-day tour of Europe, Obama warned Russian President Vladimir Putin that he will face additional sanctions if he escalates the situation in Ukraine and urged him to take steps to resolve it diplomatically. “We have prepared economic costs on Russia that can escalate if we continue to see Russia actively destabilizing one of its neighbors,” Obama said. -- On Friday, Obama and Putin are both set to attend a commemoration of the 70th anniversary of D-Day in Normandy, France. While French President François Hollande and British Prime Minister David Cameron have scheduled meetings with Putin outside the event, Obama has not. -- “Mr. Putin has a choice to make . . . that’s what I’ll tell him if I see him publicly,” Obama said. -- Even as he proposed new funding to reassure Eastern Europe and put Russia on notice, Obama also sought to send a message to other NATO allies farther to the West who have long resisted increasing their own defense spending. -- As Obama spoke in Warsaw, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel was lecturing his NATO counterparts in Brussels on “stepping forward . . . when their own security is threatened.” -- “As President Obama asks the United States Congress and the American people to support increased investment in European security, we are asking our European allies to do the same,” Hagel said. Only a handful of NATO members meet the alliance benchmark of spending at least 2 percent of their gross domestic product on defense. -- The spending argument is not a new one, but administration officials from Obama on down believe they have a potent new argument in Russia’s Ukraine aggression, right at NATO’s doorstep. The alliance, they argue, needs to return to its first principles of defending itself, after two decades of operations far afield in the Balkans and Afghanistan. -- More, Washingtonpost,


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