EU to boost military mobility to face looming Russia threat

EU to boost military mobility to face looming Russia threat
Activists hold placards reading 'There is no vodka, go home' and 'We will not miss you' as they wait for the Russian diplomats to leave the Russian embassy in Kiev on Wednesday.

Brussels - The plan will now go to EU governments and the European Parliament for discussion.



By Reuters

Published: Wed 28 Mar 2018, 10:52 PM

Last updated: Thu 29 Mar 2018, 12:56 AM

The European Union (EU) announced a plan on Wednesday to enable military personnel and equipment to be moved more quickly across Europe, which Nato sees as vital in the event of a conflict with Russia to overcome border delays and bridges too weak for tanks.
Russia's Zapad war games on Nato's eastern flank late last year raised alarm in Brussels and Washington that large-scale drills could accidentally trigger a conflict in eastern Europe but leave Nato unable to speedily mass troops there.
Conflicting regulations across 28 EU countries, bridges and tunnels too narrow or weak for heavy equipment and few special allowances for transfers of US troops all make it difficult for Nato, commanders say.
"By facilitating military mobility within the EU, we can be more effective in preventing crises, more efficient in deploying our missions, and quicker in reacting when challenges arise," EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said of the so-called Action Plan on Military Mobility.
The plan will now go to EU governments and the European Parliament for discussion.
Following a pilot programme last year to identify weak spots along North Sea-Baltic routes, where Russia regularly conducts military drills and has built up its air defences in Kaliningrad, the European Commission will next year outline the best routes across Europe for military transport.
The Commission, which oversees the EU's common budget, will also look at areas to upgrade infrastructure and estimate costs, how to streamline customs procedures for munitions and dangerous goods, and seek better cooperation between EU agencies.
Easier diplomatic clearance is also needed.
The plan is a test both for the European Union's renewed efforts to coordinate on military matters and to work better with Nato, which has its own standards for military-strength bridges, roads, tunnels and airfields.
If the EU were to design its own system, that would create unnecessary duplication and likely anger the United States.


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