U.S. President Barack Obama arrives in Estonia on a visit to show U.S. solidarity with three Baltic states ahead of a NATO summit in Wales. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).
ROUGH CUT, NO REPORTER NARRATION United States President Barack Obama arrived in Estonia on Wednesday (September 3) on a visit designed to show U.S. solidarity with the three Baltic states ahead of a NATO summit in Wales where Russia's involvement in Ukraine is expected to be the main topic. Obama will meet the President of Estonia, Toomas Hendrik Ilves, Latvian President Andris Berzins and Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite as well as Estonian Prime Minister Taavi Roivas. The three Baltic states -- former Soviet republics that have been members of the European Union and NATO since 2004 -- are seen by some as especially vulnerable to Russian attention because of their Russian minorities and high dependence on energy shipments from Moscow. In their comments on the Ukraine crisis, the three countries have been more hawkish than their Western partners. Anchored in NATO, unlike Ukraine, they have far less cause to fear a full-blown Russian military invasion, but they worry about cyber-attacks and other more stealthy forms of aggression. At the NATO summit in Wales on Thursday (September 4) and Friday (September 5), the Baltic states will press for some kind of deployment of NATO troops, building on increased air patrols already announced by the North Atlantic 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. However, the Alliance remains divided on setting up permanent bases in the east as it could counter an existing agreement with Moscow.