Obama arrives in Estonia for defence talks

US President Barack Obama has expressed hope for a reported ceasefire between Ukraine and Russia over the rebellion in eastern Ukraine during a visit to Estonia.

Obama is in Tallinn, the capital, on a visit apparently aimed at showing Washington’s solidarity with the three Baltic states, one day before a NATO summit in Wales, where Russia’s involvement in Ukraine is expected to be the main topic.

At a joint news conference with his Estonian counterpart Toomas Hendrik, Obama said: “Just hope it [the ceasefire] works.

“But we need to be clear and consistent in language we use to describe situation in Ukraine.

“As the EU underlines, this is Russian aggression. The EU and US are ready to take further restrictive measures in response to Russia’s behaviour.”

He also said that Estonia was acting as a buffer zone against “Russian agreession” in the east, adding that the country has been a great ally, fulfilling its duties towards NATO.

Obama will also meet with the leaders of Latvia and Lithuania later on Wednesday to offer reassurances to all Baltic NATO member states located near the Russian border, following the alleged Russian-backed military offensive in Ukraine.

The Baltic states are seen by some as especially vulnerable to Moscow’s attention because of their Russian minorities and high dependence on energy shipments from their larger neighbour.

At the two-day summit in Wales, the Baltic states will press for some kind of deployment of NATO troops, in addition to increased air patrols already announced by the alliance this year.

NATO agreed this week to create a “spearhead” rapid reaction force, potentially including several thousand troops, that could be sent to a hot spot in as little as two days, down from an earlier response time of around five days.Agencies

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