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Obama aims to show solidarity with Baltics, sends clear message to Putin

BY JULIE PACE

TALLINN, Estonia (AP) - President Barack Obama will stand shoulder to shoulder with Baltic leaders Wednesday in a show of solidarity with NATO allies who fear they could be the next target of Russia's aggression.

After arriving early Wednesday in Estonia's port capital of Tallinn, Obama was greeted at Kadriorg Palace by Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves on a crisp and sunny morning. Obama placed his hand over his heart as the U.S. national anthem played, then inspected Estonian troops with Ilves and shook hands with groups of flag-waving schoolchildren.

The two leaders then entered the palace, where Obama signed a guest book.

"It's an honor to visit Estonia - a nation that shows what free people can achieve together," Obama wrote. "May we strengthen our friendship for future generations."

Obama and Ilves, along with several advisers, then opened a bilateral meeting. They were to take questions from reporters later Wednesday before holding broader security talks that include the leaders of Latvia and Lithuania.

Obama's daylong trip to Estonia comes ahead of a NATO summit this week at which allies will commit to a more robust 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.

White House officials say Obama will reassure the Baltics that the U.S. would come to their defense it they were attacked. Under the NATO charter, an attack on one member is considered an attack on the entire alliance.

During the NATO summit in Wales starting Thursday, the alliance will also agree on a more robust rapid response force that 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.

Even before the Ukraine crisis, relations between the Baltic countries and Russia were chilly. Moscow routinely accuses them of discriminating against their Russian-speaking minorities.

About a third of Estonia's 1.3 million residents have Russian as their mother tongue. Many of them feel detached from Estonian society and get their news from Kremlin-controlled Russian TV stations.

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.

Obama will depart Tallinn late Wednesday for Wales, which is hosting the two-day NATO summit.

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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

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olympictorchrun4 September 03 2014 at 3:15 AM

In September of 2009, this moron traveled to Moscow to meet with the puppet Medvedev to scrap the missile defense shield in Eastern Europe. Putin took advantage of Obama's weakness and invaded the Ukraine and annexed Crimea. The same will happen to the former USSR baltic states, regardless what this moron says and does. Instead of showing military power to kick Russia out of the Ukraine and start eradicating ISIS to stop genocide, he travels, plays golf and talks bullshit. If Congress does not kick him out of office, we Americans will lose our freedom.

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9 replies
piksz September 03 2014 at 3:13 AM

what a TWIT. He couldn't manage a bowel movement if you spotted him a laxative. LOSER from Hell.

Flag Reply +49 rate up
6 replies
Dennis September 03 2014 at 3:31 AM

Obama is such a joke, if it wasn't so pitiful/serious it would be truly laughable...of course, most other major country's are laughing...

Flag Reply +45 rate up
6 replies
PERFORATOR September 03 2014 at 3:29 AM

It's not like he ever actually does anything meaningful on these grand trips of his. This just amounts to one more vacation on the taxpayer's dime.

Flag Reply +44 rate up
8 replies
torp8r September 03 2014 at 3:33 AM

As the midterm elections are on the horizon , Obama starts to wake up. Leading from behind. Thanks to the left wing nut jobs that elected this clown !

Flag Reply +38 rate up
4 replies
olympictorchrun4 September 03 2014 at 3:23 AM

This moron is in a wrong place! Just bullshit talks and no actions will give the West more trouble.

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6 replies
Steve September 03 2014 at 3:29 AM

Wow, a whole 4000 troops? That is sure to put a scare into russia. They put more peacekeepers than that into Bosnia 20 years ago and they still had a mass genocide right under clinton's nose. Maybe obama will go for the photo op and do a fly over eastern Ukraine to check out the border situation...

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3 replies
Intense Insanity September 03 2014 at 3:06 AM

Give thanks for our lives and for the things we have now.

There's simply no guarantees that it will be the same after WW III

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3 replies
chuck September 03 2014 at 3:37 AM

a vacation in his home country

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frankiegallo33 September 03 2014 at 5:53 AM

What a waste of time & money !!!!
Hey Obama, nobody believe a single word that comes out of your lying mouth.
You are a pathological liar and your hatred for most Americans and your yearning to control a Muslim Caliphate across the globe is very very evident to Americans with a brain.

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