Brussels chief Jean-Claude Juncker calls for European force to face down Vladimir Putin

A machine gun sits inside a pro-Russian rebel trench along the front lines two kilometers from Ukrainian troops

Brussels chief Jean-Claude Juncker has called for the creation of an EU army in the wake of rising tensions with Russia.

The European Commission President said an EU military force would help defend the continent from Vladimir Putin’s aggression.

He said: ‘You would not create a European army to use it immediately.

‘But a common army among the Europeans would convey to Russia that we are serious about defending the values of the European Union.’

He said a joint EU force would be more economical than each country individually ordering their own military kit. It would also drive further integration of the bloc’s 28 member states.

‘Such an army would help us design a common foreign and security policy,’ the former Luxembourg prime minister said.

He insisted the army would not challenge NATO’s role defending Europe from Russian aggression.