While visiting Poland on Tuesday, President Barack Obama promoted a classically American solution for the tension that Ukrainian upheaval has brought to Europe's eastern border: more guns and more gas.
During a joint press conference with Polish President Bronisław Komorowski, Obama announced a $1 billion initiative to bolster U.S. troops in central and eastern Europe in an attempt to stem further Russian "provocations," despite recent moves by Russian President Vladimir Putin tp withdraw Russian troops from its border with Ukraine.
"Under this effort, and with the support of Congress, the United States will pre-position more equipment in Europe," said Obama speaking in Warsaw on the first day of a four-day trip to the region. "We will be expanding our exercises and training with allies to increase the readiness of our forces."
The president continued: "We’ll increase the number of American personnel—Army and Air Force units—continuously rotating through allied countries in Central and Eastern Europe. And we will be stepping up our partnerships with friends like Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia as they provide for their own defense."
Obama also took the opportunity to push expanded U.S. natural gas development and exports—invoking the term "energy security"—by promoting increased European imports by way of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).
"It’s going to be critical for Ukraine to embark on effective efforts to reform its energy sector and diversify its supply of natural gas," Obama said while meeting with Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk. "For our part, the United States has already approved licenses for natural gas exports, which will increase global supplies and thereby benefit partners here in Europe."
"One of the benefits of a strong trade agreement is it is much easier for me to approve natural gas exports to countries with which we already have a free trade agreement," Obama continued, indicating that the crisis in Ukraine should incentivize European leaders to sign the contentious trade agreement.
Environmentalists have criticized what they say are underhanded efforts by U.S. politicians and energy companies to exploit the international crisis to drive through policies—a process Naomi Klein refers to as the "shock doctrine"—to speed up natural gas exports.
The president's trip to Europe follows by one day his announcement of new carbon emissions standards which many hailed as a landmark initiative. However, as the Los Angeles Times noted on Tuesday, the White House's new regulations are likely to "speed up" the expansion of natural gas drilling through hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.
Fracking has been found to create grave public health risks, emit dangerous levels of toxic compounds into the water and air, and is a growing source of methane emissions, a greenhouse gas many times more potent as carbon dioxide (CO2).
Despite these warnings, the White House under Obama continues to push shale gas development in the U.S. as an important export commodity, announcing in Poland: "The United States will be exporting more natural gas to the global market in the years to come."