BRUSSELS, March 26 NATO needs a regular presence
in eastern European countries that feel vulnerable to Russia
after its annexation of Crimea, U.S. President Barack Obama said
on Wednesday, voicing concern about declining defence spending
by some European allies.
NATO foreign ministers meeting next week should study plans
to "make sure ... that we do more to ensure that a regular NATO
presence among some of these states that may feel vulnerable is
executed," Obama told a news conference after meeting EU leaders
He voiced concern about falling military budgets among some
NATO allies. "The situation in Ukraine reminds us that our
freedom isn't free, and we've got to be willing to pay for the
assets, the personnel, the training that's required," he said.
Neither Ukraine nor Georgia are currently on a path to NATO
membership and there is no prospect of that changing anytime
soon because of Kiev's complicated relations with Moscow, he
added in reference to Russian concerns about NATO expansion.
(Reporting by Steve Holland)