Brussels, Belgium - The European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs, Catherine Ashton, has expressed fears that the deployment of the EU peacekeeping mission for the Central African Republic (EUFOR-CAR) would be postponed.
In a letter to EU member states made public at a meeting of the European Council of Ministers of Foreign Affairs, which opened in Brussels on Monday, she said that such a postponement was likely to undermine the credibility of the EU.
Ms Aston expressed regret that as at 17 March, the date chosen to deploy the first troops in Bangui, the EUFOR-CAR mission was yet to have the number of soldiers needed to launch the operation.
At least 1,000 troops are needed for the launch of the EU military operation in CAR.
Ms Ashton noted that Member States who pledged to provide troops as part of the EUFOR-CAR mission as well as transport to carry troops and military vehicles were yet to deliver on their pledges.
Poland, which pledged to send troops to CAR has flip-flopped, and so have Baltic countries such as Estonia and Latvia.
This is due, according to military strategists, to the worsening crisis in Ukraine where Russia has sent 20,000 soldiers to deter Kiev in a conflict with Crimea which voted overwhelmingly on Sunday to join Russia in a referendum condemned by Ukraine and the West.
EU member countries, which pledged to send forces in the CAR, are reluctant to do so while war threatens to erupt in Ukraine between pro-Russian Crimean militias backed by Russian forces and the Ukrainian armed forces .