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Military support increases as Obama voices solidarity with Baltics

September 5, 2014
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On Wednesday, President Barack Obama pledged American support to the Baltics in comments he made in a joint press conference with Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves. This show of solidarity came in the face of increasing pressure on Russia to end its support of pro-Russian rebels in Ukraine, and days before a NATO conference in Wales.

President Obama pledged further US air power in the region and voiced strong support for Estonia – a country with a considerable Russian-speaking population. Many Eastern European nations have grown concerned in recent months as Russia’s military aid to Ukrainian separatists has grown into what some have called a full-scale invasion by Russia. This increase in US support, as well as a newly-proposed NATO rapid response force are all designed to show NATO strength in the face of this Russian aggression.

Obama stopped well short of calling this a new Cold War era, as some have suggested. But he did assert a forceful defense of the sovereignty of the Baltic states – Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. In one of his most well-received comments the President declared, “You’ve lost your independence once. With NATO, you will never lose it again.”

Estonian reaction to the President’s visit was wildly positive, with some instant polls showing as high as 90% approval of his comments.

In choosing Estonia for this visit, the administration is holding the country up as an example. Estonia and the United States are two of only four NATO members which spend at least 2% of their GDP on defense – a pledge made by all NATO members.

 

The two presidents’ full comments can be found here: http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2014/09/03/remarks-president-obama-and-president-ilves-estonia-joint-press-confer-0

 

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