President Barack Obama is calling on Congress to support a “European Reassurance Initiative” of up to $1 billion for increased military rotations in Europe and for the U.S. Navy to increase its deployment to NATO forces.
The $1 billion “European Reassurance Initiative” includes “more persistent deployments” to the Black and Baltic seas, which are close to Russia. The initiative would also help boost military support in Western-leaning countries near Russia’s borders, including Georgia and Moldova, amid the crisis in Ukraine, Reuters reported.
"These efforts will not come at the expense of other defense priorities, such as our commitment to the Asia Pacific rebalance," said a White House statement sent to NBC News.
The increased rotations in Europe would be on a temporary basis, a promise Reuters reported was short of a request by Washington’s allies to beef up its military permanently on the continent. Washington didn’t rule out that possibility, saying it would review its forces in Europe.
"In addition to this initiative, we are reviewing our force presence in Europe in the light of the new security challenges on the continent," the statement said.
The initiative’s plans were unveiled as Obama was in Poland at the start of a four-day trip to Europe. The president began the trip by meeting Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski. He said the visit began in Poland because he wanted to assure America’s commitment to the eastern European nation’s security.
“As friends and allies we stand united together,” Obama said, adding that military commitments to Poland, including a joint program with the U.S. and Polish air forces, were key to America’s own security.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who was also in Poland, said Obama would also talk about how to deal with the crisis in Ukraine.
“Events in Ukraine have unfortunately unleashed forces that we had all hoped had been put away ... were behind us. So it requires new vigilance and it requires clear commitment," Kerry said, according to Reuters.
The rest of Obama’s visit includes stops in Brussels, where he’s scheduled to meet with Group of Seven leaders, and France, where the president will help commemorate the 70th anniversary of D-Day.