EDGARTOWN, Mass., Aug. 15 (UPI) -- The White House announced U.S. President Barack Obama will visit Estonia in September to assure Baltic leaders of U.S. adherence to the NATO treaty.
Obama's visit will likely be seen by Russian President Vladimir Putin as meddling in a former Soviet republic that Russia still regards as part of its sphere of influence.
Obama will meet with Estonia's President Toomas Henrik Ilves and Prime Minister Taavi Roivas Sept. 4 in Tallinn, Estonia's capital, then attend a Baltic summit including Ilves, Latvian President Andris Berzins and Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite. The Estonian visit will be part of Obama's trip to Europe to attend a NATO summit in Wales, the White House Press Office said in Edgartown, Mass., where Obama is vacationing.
The three Baltic nations, unlike Ukraine, are NATO members. Since Russia's annexation of Crimea and involvement in Ukraine's pro-separatist movement, Obama has offered regular reassurance the United States honors Article V of the NATO treaty, which offers mutual defense if a NATO member is attacked. Obama reminded Poland, another NATO member, of the agreement during his visit in June.
"In light of recent developments in Ukraine, the United States has taken steps to reassure allies in Central and Eastern Europe, and this trip is a chance to reaffirm our ironclad commitment to Article V as the foundation of NATO," National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said.