Pompeo Warns Central European Allies Over Russia, China Ties
Pompeo arrives in Europe to counter Russian and Chinese influence
US Secretary of State to visit Czech Republic, Slovenia, Austria and Poland
WASHINGTON – US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo kicks off a week-long tour of Central Europe as Washington prepares for economic and geopolitical competition with Russia and China in Europe.
The head of American diplomacy will visit Prague and Pilsen in the Czech Republic, Ljubljana in Slovenia, Austrian Vienna and Polish Warsaw from 11 to 15 August.
For Slovenia, this will be the first visit of an American Secretary of State since 2011. Here he will sign a joint declaration on 5G technologies as part of Washington’s efforts to reduce the risks associated with China’s penetration into the region’s high-tech networks..
The visit takes place against the background of the Pentagon’s preparations for the implementation of a plan to withdraw nearly 12,000 troops from Germany and the transfer of part of American forces to Poland and other NATO countries..
The plan has raised concerns in both the US and Europe, although senior military officials have referred to it as a strategic necessity..
Ambassador Philip Ricoeur, Acting Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, said that Pompeo will discuss with his counterparts the recently reached Agreement on Enhanced Defense Cooperation between the United States and Poland, which “provides a framework” to further strengthen “broad transatlantic security.”.
The agreement allows the United States to deploy 1,000 more troops on a rotational basis to “strengthen containment of Russia and strengthen NATO,” officials said. There are already approximately 4,500 US troops in Poland on a rotational basis..
With construction nearing completion of the controversial Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline linking Russia and Germany, energy security will also be an important issue in Pompeo’s talks with leaders in Central Europe..
“We are working hard to help these countries find alternative energy sources so that they can overcome their dependence on Russia,” Ricoeur said..
Previously, Russia defended the project as economically viable.
US warned of security risks associated with Russian energy exports, and especially the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline.
In July, the State Department said that people who invest in Nord Stream 2 or are involved in the project could face US sanctions.
“This is an obvious warning to companies: assistance and complicity in projects of malicious Russian influence is unacceptable,” Pompeo said at a press conference on July 15..
“Let me explain. These are not commercial projects. These are key Kremlin tools for exploiting and expanding European dependence on Russian energy supplies, ”Pompeo said..