In response to the Russian aggression in Crimea, US President Barack Obama spoke with his counterparts in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, reaffirming the American commitment to defend the Baltic states under the NATO collective defence article.
In a conference call on 8 March between Obama and Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves, Latvian leader Andris Berzins and Lithuanian head of state Dalya Grybauskaite, the leaders agreed on the need for Russia to pull its military forces back to their bases in Crimea, allow for the deployment of international observers and human rights monitors to the Crimean peninsula and agree quickly on the formation of a contact group that could lead to direct dialogue between Ukraine and Russia to de-escalate the situation and restore Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
The heads of state made clear that Russia’s continued violation of international law would isolate it from the international community.
President Grybauskaitė said that the ongoing developments in Ukraine posed a threat to the security and stability of the whole of Europe.
Among the other issues discussed was the United States’ direct contribution to increasing the security of the Baltic region. On 6 March, the US sent six additional F-15 fighter jets to step up NATO’s air policing over the Baltic states. It was agreed that the security of the Baltic countries would be enhanced further if necessary.
Source: The White House.
Cover photo: President Obama meeting Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves, Latvian leader Andris Berzins and Lithuanian head of state Dalya Grybauskaite at the White House in August 2013.