On six occasions, between 1952 and 2009, European countries made the choice to apply for membership based on a democratic process and respect for the rule of law. NATO Allies made the unanimous choice to accept them. These efforts and commitments have moved Europe closer to being whole, free, and at peace than at any other time in history. And when in 2010 Ukraine decided to pursue a “non-bloc policy”, NATO fully respected that choice.
At this moment Russia seem to think it can change the borders of a sovereign European country by force, and this is happening not very far form NATO´s borders. The NATO summit in Wales is very important because of changed security situation of NATO´s borders.
NATO leaders, at this weeks summit, expect to endorse their most concrete response yet to increased Russian military intervention in Ukraine: establishing a rapid-reaction force capable of deploying quickly to Easter Europe. Russia´s aggressive behavior, said SG Rasmussen, will mean a more visible NATO presence in the East for as long as required.
The new force of some 4,000 troops, combined with more military exercises and enhanced air patrols over the Baltic States, Poland and Romania are intended to deter Russia and reassure new members.
NATO summit meeting, which will take place on 4-5 sept 2014, will be attended by President Obama who will also stop in Estonia before the summit meeting.
His aides said the trip was intended to highlight the United States´commitment to NATO , and the alliance´s determination to protect all 28 members from aggression from Moscow or elsewhere. (NATO´s commitment of collective defense, in NATO´s Article 5).
NATO leaders are trying this week to reassure allies that NATO´s commitment means what it says and will have the capability to defend its most vulnerable members against Russian aggression, whether overt or more covert, or a hybrid, of the two, as in Ukraine. The sense of urgency was highlighted bay events in Ukraine. “Direct, unconcealed aggression has been launched against Ukraine form a neighboring country”, according to Poroshenko´s presidential website.
Moreover, numerous leaders of NATO countries have said that any hope of achieving the “strategic partnership” with Russia envisioned as long ago as the 1990 NATO summit was finished because of Russia´s annexation of Crimea and invasion of eastern Ukraine.
In Tallinn, U.S. President Obama must show passion and commitment to Central and Eastern Europe, and to the transatlantic relationship and the common blues it represent. One of the most important that may significantly improve EU-U.S inter-institutional cooperation would be President Obama to pledge to bring U.S. made Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) to Europe as a way to boost the continent´s energy security from Russia in the short to medium term.
The Baltic states in comparison along with Poland stand out as a remarkable example of successful post-Communist transition. Estonia is one of the great success stories among the nations that reclaimed their independence after the Cold war. President Obama´s brief stopover in Tallinn en route to the NATO Summit in Wales couldn´t been be any timelier to the Balts who are increasingly feeling the heat after Russia´s invasion of Crimea and subsequent aggression in Eastern Ukraine.
The Crimea referendum was illegal according to the Ukrainian constitution, which states that questions “of altering the territory of Ukraine are resolved exclusively by an All-Ukrainian referendum.”
Obviously, any such fake referenda organized by self-appointed authorities who lack all democratic legitimacy are illegal and illegitimate.
The UN General Assembly on 27 March 2014 passed a non-binding resolution declaring the so-called referendum invalid. The European Union also does not recognize the alleged outcome. Russia should do the same.
That said, it should be noted that NATO is being careful not to violate the NATO-Russia Founding Act, the 1997 agreement with Moscow under which NATO pledged not to permanently base substantial forces in Eastern Europe. In fact, before the Ukraine crisis, the only NATO forces routinely present on the territory of Eastern European Allies were the Nato jets used in the Baltic States for air policing mission.
On the contrary, the only country which had ships and troops in Sevarstopol was Russia, under its agreement with Ukraine. And after the illegal takeover of Crimea, Russia stole most of the ships of the Ukrainian navy and installed additional anti-ship and anti-aircraft batteries to expand its military presence in the region.
The situation in Ukraine touches both Europe and the wider international community. What Russia has done violates not just Ukrainian sovereignty, but the fundamental principle of European peace and that European borders cannot, will not be changed though political intimidation or military force.
Since the crisis, Nato has taken steps to increase situational awareness bolster the defences of Eastern members. U.S. ships have patrolled the Black Sea. Nato forces began rotating through the Baltics, including Estonia, for more training and exercises. Vice President Joe Biden has make several diplomatic visits to Eastern Europe. This, too, is entirely consistent with the Founding Act and is a direct result of Russia´s desabilizing military actions.
In light of recent developments in Ukraine, the United States has taken steps to reassure allies in Central and Eastern Europe, and this trip of Presidential trip is a chance to reaffirm U:S ironclad commitment to Article 5 as the foundation of NATO.
The NATO summit is also an opportunity for U.S. President Obama and NATO leaders to confront increased terrorist threat from the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria and other radical Islamist groups in Africa. The advance in Iraq and Syria of the ISIL poses a threat to both EU and the U.S. But the emphasis will be on Russia, as both American and European leaders weigh additional sanctions against Moscow.
Together, EU and U.S. share a world view based on democracy, human rights and the rule of law. We share an engagement and the ambition to cooperate across borders, to think and act multilaterally, to look for global solutions to global problems. We can only support and advance that world view if we are consistent and bold in applying it, even in times of crisis in Ukraine and Iraq.
September 3, 2014
Remarks by President Obama and President Ilves of Estonia.
Obama: Most of all, I´m here because Estonia has been a model ally. Estonian forces have served with courage and skill in Iraq and Afghanistan and we honor our servicemembers who made the ultimate sacrifice in Afghanistan.