Washington, June 6: US President Barack Obama will visit Poland and Spain in July, in what will likely be his final trip to Europe, a continent that has often presented more problems than opportunities during his presidency.
The White House said that Obama will travel to Warsaw on July 7-9 for "his fifth and final summit with NATO leaders," before going on his first trip to Spain. During his nearly eight years in office, Obama has at times had difficult relationships with America's oldest allies. For most of his first term, Europe was frustratingly slow to contain sovereign debt crises that were fed by and prolonged the Great Recession.
Relations with Europe were further tested by Obama's "pivot to Asia" -- which was widely perceived as capping a decades-long strategic shift from the Atlantic to the Pacific. Obama has publicly said that it was a mistake to depend on European allies to manage Libya's emergence from decades of Moamer Kadhafi's dictatorial rule. Five years after Kadhafi was killed, the country is still in turmoil and is now a base for the Islamic State group.
That is likely to be a topic of discussion in Warsaw, along with Russia's continued testing of NATO resolve in eastern and central Europe.
The Russian annexation of Ukraine's Crimea region was followed with active support for separatists in the east of the country. The country is today de facto partitioned, posing a significant obstacle for Kiev's reform efforts and plunging the West in Russia into the biggest standoff since the Cold War. Meanwhile Russian aircraft have launched a series of provocative intercepts of NATO, Swedish and other craft.