WARSAW - President Barack Obama Tuesday proposed a $1 billion (S$1.26 billion) plan to finance extra US troop, air and naval rotations to "new allies" in eastern Europe amid an East-West showdown over Ukraine.
The "European Reassurance Initiative," which must be approved by Congress, would also build the capacity of non-NATO states including Ukraine, Georgia and Moldova to work with the United States and the Western alliance and build their own defences, the White House said.
"The United States stands by its allies, as they have stood by us," said a White House statement issued in Poland where Obama began a European tour.
If approved, Obama's plan would amount to his most concrete effort yet to reassure allies in eastern Europe and to signal to Russia that its actions over Ukraine will be met with a firm US response.
The statement noted that "newer allies" of the United States in eastern Europe were "deeply concerned by Russia's occupation and attempted annexation of Crimea and other provocative actions in Ukraine." The initiative would increase exercises, training and the rotational presence of air and ground forces sent from the United States into Europe.
It would include detachments of US planners sent to eastern European states and lead to the prepositioning of equipment and improvements in infrastructure that could be used by NATO forces to deploy swiftly.
The statement said the plan would see increased "participation by the US Navy in NATO naval force deployments, including more persistent deployments to the Black and Baltic Seas." The White House also said that in addition to the proposed plan, Washington would review its force presence in Europe "in the light of the new security challenges on the continent." It cautioned however that the renewed focus on Europe following a drawing down of forces in the region after the Cold War would not come at the expense of the "rebalancing" of US power to the Asia-Pacific region.