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Obama: 'Estonia will never stand alone'

TALLINN, Estonia (AP) - President Barack Obama proclaimed an unwavering and permanent U.S. commitment to the security of its NATO allies, as he mounted a show of solidarity Wednesday with European nations anxious about Russia's aggression in Ukraine.

During a visit to Estonia, Obama also announced the U.S. would send more Air Force units and aircraft to the Baltics, and called Estonia's Amari Air Base an ideal location to base those forces. Standing shoulder to shoulder with Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves, Obama ticked through a list of U.S. military resources already at work in the region, and said the U.S. has a duty under the NATO charter to the alliance's collective defense.

"It is unbreakable, it is unwavering, it is eternal. And Estonia will never stand alone," Obama said in Tallinn, Estonia's port capital.

Obama's firm words came as NATO nations were preparing to commit to a more robust rapid-response force for the region, in response to Russia's incursion in Ukraine. Moscow's moves have sparked fears among member states on NATO's eastern flank that they could be Russian President Vladimir Putin's next target.

Yet shortly after Obama arrived in Europe, the office of Ukraine's president said he and Russian President Vladimir Putin had reached agreement on a cease-fire - an unexpected development that added further uncertainty to Obama's meetings with regional leaders.

Obama said it was too early to tell what the cease-fire meant. He noted previous unsuccessful attempts and questioned whether pro-Russian separatists would abide by any cease-fire.

"We haven't seen a lot of follow-up on so-called announced cease-fires," Obama said at a news conference with Ilves. "Having said that, if in fact Russia is prepared to stop financing, arming, training, in many cases joining with Russian troops, activities in Ukraine and is serious about a political settlement, that is something we all hope for."

Ilves, reacting to word of the cease-fire, said wryly, "I just hope it works."

The Estonian leader cautioned that for a cease-fire to be successful, Russia would have to acknowledge its own participation in the conflict - a step Moscow has previously refused to take. After a meeting with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko last week, Putin had said a cease-fire was not discussed because Russia was not a party to the conflict.

"This is aggression," Ilves said. "Russia must admit that it is a party to the conflict."

He called for "a robust and a visible ally presence here in Estonia," arguing that such a presence would be the best way to deter any potential aggressors in the region - a clear reference to Russia.

Obama held up Estonia as an example of how every member of the military alliance needs to do its fair share for the collective defense of all 28 members. The U.S. and Estonia are two of four NATO countries that fulfill their pledges to contribute 2 percent of their GDP to defense spending.

Later Wednesday, Obama and Ilves were to hold broader security talks that include the leaders of Latvia and Lithuania. Then Obama departs for Wales, where a two-day NATO summit will begin on Thursday.

NATO allies plan to agree during the summit to a stepped-up response to Russia, including the rapid response force, which will involve positioning more troops and equipment in the Baltics and elsewhere in Eastern Europe. It's unclear whether the plan will satisfy the concerns of the Baltic nations, who have been pressing NATO for permanent bases in the region.

After arriving in Tallinn on a crisp and sunny morning, Obama was greeted by Ilves at Kadriorg Palace, where Obama placed his hand over his heart as the U.S. national anthem played. The two leaders then inspected Estonian troops and shook hands with groups of flag-waving schoolchildren.

Obama becomes the second sitting American president to visit Estonia, following President George W. Bush, who traveled here in 2006. As he entered the palace, Obama wrote in a guest book that it was an honor to visit "a nation that shows what free people can achieve together."

The Baltics were invaded by the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany during World War II. After the Soviet Union crumbled, the Baltic countries turned to the West and joined the European Union and NATO in 2004, much to the chagrin of Russia.


Associated Press writers Liudas Dapkus in Vilnius, Lithuania, and Jari Tanner in Tallinn contributed to this report.


Follow Julie Pace on Twitter at http://twitter.com/jpaceDC

Join the discussion

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bert hall September 03 2014 at 7:40 AM


Flag Reply +23 rate up
7 replies
fishhead80 September 03 2014 at 8:42 AM

Don't believe a word he says.
He's a LIAR.

Flag Reply +19 rate up
3 replies
jerry September 03 2014 at 8:05 AM

While the world fell apart last weekend the loser was playing golf, loser jumior head of the joke Dept of state was playing some ignorant water game Even after having almost a year of warnings by our intelligence community about isis and what they were capable of. Mr do nothing strikes again

Flag Reply +17 rate up
1 reply
LewTag jerry September 03 2014 at 10:23 AM

sooo how many hundred thousand troops and billions do you want him to send back to Iraq against ISIL...mmmm?????

Flag Reply 0 rate up
2 replies
Dave LewTag September 03 2014 at 10:35 AM

How about as many as it takes?. We are at war whether you libs and hand wringers know it or not.

Flag +1 rate up
chuckhalper LewTag September 03 2014 at 11:21 AM

Maybe, and maybe not. He had at least a year to come up with a strategy, which he admitted he did not have. Go ahead...now think of an excuse...

Flag 0 rate up
debbiedo331 September 03 2014 at 7:28 AM

Dont believe him he sounds good but never follows through

Flag Reply +14 rate up
liondog96 September 03 2014 at 9:27 AM

Next time vote for someone who is interested in taking oath as president for the American people. NOT for just himself.

Flag Reply +13 rate up
4 replies
charlie4562r September 03 2014 at 10:23 AM

Ahh, Barry Obambi the traveling minstrel! Greeting people and making them smile. How touching. Well, now school is in, and we have several thousands of illegal immigrant children ready to start school in the US. Do they have clean health cards? Can they speak English? Will each child have a personal translator to assist them while they're in school? Oh, where do they live, have we taken care of their welfare housing yet? Are they getting proper nutrition, are they set up with food stamps? Do they have their Obama Care cards? Do they have their government issued cell phone? Oh, should they have some kind of allowance, i.e. a government credit card?
What about little Johnny, Suzie and Bill, how do they fit into this classroom, perhaps they will get some attention after Pedro and Lupe have been taken care of?? Etc. etc. etc.

Flag Reply +10 rate up
1 reply
rphillipsalx charlie4562r September 03 2014 at 1:27 PM

Shuckin' and Jivin" Obamabi.

Flag Reply 0 rate up
R September 03 2014 at 7:58 AM

Obama refuses to remain at the White House and deal with our ever-increasing problems facing us and our nation.

He will rot in Hell for all eternity as will his children.

The sins of the father are visited upon his children.

Many have said that the sins of Joseph Kennedy, Sr. were visited upon his children and they surely were.

Flag Reply +7 rate up
3 replies
Inness207 September 03 2014 at 10:32 AM

He will only stand with them until they are targeted. He said he would stand with Iraq, Afghanistan the Syrian people until they were attacked and peace was challenged. Empty promises and shallow words.

Flag Reply +6 rate up
almazstmp September 03 2014 at 7:24 AM

Oh please! Russia wouldn't want Estonia back even if they begged to come back. This is the whole problem with U.S. foreign policy. It is based on stereotyping and paranoia, instead actual knowledge and understanding of foreign cultures.

Flag Reply +5 rate up
1 reply
kcarthey almazstmp September 03 2014 at 7:46 AM

Russia's goal since Alexander Nevski has been having warm water ports and ports that provide direct access into Europe. While I agree with your statement about US foreign policy -- who can forget the way we've viewed Central America for all of our history -- you are mistaken when it comes to the Baltic Trio or Russia's.former Grand Duchies of Poland or Finland.

Flag Reply +1 rate up
1 reply
almazstmp kcarthey September 03 2014 at 8:35 AM

You are a shining example of American ignorance. The name you were looking for is Peter the Great, not Alexander Nevski. Russia already has several ports on the Baltic sea, it doesn't need Estonia. Russia voluntarily let go of Finland in 1917. Russia could have annexed it back after Finland lost Winter War in 1940, but they didn't. They only pushed Finland back to prevent Leningrad from being within artillery range. Russians have more territory than it can manage, they sold us Alaska for practically nothing.

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frankiegallo33 September 03 2014 at 12:22 PM

You'll Never stand alone? Obama says?

Ask Israel just how trustworthy Obama the liar really is.

Flag Reply +3 rate up
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