Tiny Estonia seeks strong support from Obama - KAUZ-TV: Newschannel 6 Now | Wichita Falls, TX

Tiny Estonia seeks strong support from Obama

Posted: Updated:
(AP Photo/Jari Tanner). A view of 18th century baroque-style Kadriorg Palace near the centre of the Estonian capital, Tallinn, where U.S. (AP Photo/Jari Tanner). A view of 18th century baroque-style Kadriorg Palace near the centre of the Estonian capital, Tallinn, where U.S.
(AP Photo/Mindaugas Kulbis). A traditional Russian Matryoshka wooden doll depicting US President Barack Obama, second from right, Russian President, Vladimir Putin, center, U.S. (AP Photo/Mindaugas Kulbis). A traditional Russian Matryoshka wooden doll depicting US President Barack Obama, second from right, Russian President, Vladimir Putin, center, U.S.
(AP Photo/Mindaugas Kulbis). A traditional Russian Matryoshka wooden doll depicting US President Barack Obama, right, Russian President Vladimir Putin, second from right, U.S. (AP Photo/Mindaugas Kulbis). A traditional Russian Matryoshka wooden doll depicting US President Barack Obama, right, Russian President Vladimir Putin, second from right, U.S.
(AP Photo/Mindaugas Kulbis). A traditional Russian Matryoshka wooden doll depicting US President Barack Obama, right, Russian President Vladimir Putin, second from right, on display in Tallinn, Estonia, Tuesday, Sept. 2, 2014 (AP Photo/Mindaugas Kulbis). A traditional Russian Matryoshka wooden doll depicting US President Barack Obama, right, Russian President Vladimir Putin, second from right, on display in Tallinn, Estonia, Tuesday, Sept. 2, 2014
  • NationalMore>>

  • Burger King wants Hawaii needle lawsuit dismissed

    Burger King wants Hawaii needle lawsuit dismissed

    Monday, September 15 2014 8:41 PM EDT2014-09-16 00:41:09 GMT
    Burger King wants to dismiss a lawsuit alleging there were needles in a sandwich after the former soldier who made the claim didn't attend a settlement conference.
    Burger King wants to dismiss a lawsuit alleging there were needles in a sandwich after the former soldier who made the claim didn't attend a settlement conference.
  • Hundreds flee 3 California wildfires; homes burn

    Hundreds flee 3 California wildfires; homes burn

    Monday, September 15 2014 8:31 PM EDT2014-09-16 00:31:30 GMT
    Two raging wildfires in California forced hundreds of people to evacuate their homes, including one near a lakeside resort town that burned nearly two dozen structures.
    A wildfire that broke out in far Northern California has burned at least 75 structures, forced the evacuation of about 1,500 residents and caused the closure of a major interstate freeway.
  • Victim's family praying for girl in range accident

    Victim's family praying for girl in range accident

    Monday, September 15 2014 8:21 PM EDT2014-09-16 00:21:03 GMT
    The family of an Arizona shooting range instructor who was accidentally shot and killed by a 9-year-old girl with an Uzi say they're praying for her.
    The family of an Arizona shooting-range instructor who was accidentally shot and killed by a 9-year-old girl with an Uzi say they're praying for her.
By LIUDAS DAPKUS and JARI TANNER
Associated Press

TALLINN, Estonia (AP) - Spooked by Russia's intervention in Ukraine, Estonia is hoping for a strong signal of support from President Barack Obama when he arrives Wednesday in a country that two decades ago had Russian troops on its soil.

That Obama picked Estonia as his only stop before a NATO summit in Wales is reassuring to Estonia and Baltic neighbors Latvia and Lithuania, which, like Ukraine, were ruled by Moscow until the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991.

"I always knew that America is our key and trusted ally," said Juozas Kairutis, a 69-year-old retired teacher in the Lithuanian capital, Vilnius. "Western Europe is too pragmatic. They do not understand what all this means and probably would turn away from Baltic states just like they did in 1940."

During World War II, the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany invaded Baltic countries over the years. The U.S. and many other Western countries never recognized the nearly five-decade Soviet occupation, during which tens of thousands of Estonians, Latvians and Lithuanians were deported to Siberia.

After the Soviet Union crumbled, the Baltic countries turned to the West and joined the European Union and NATO in 2004, irritating Russia.

To Baltic leaders, the Ukraine crisis has underscored why they joined the alliance in the first place. They're now calling on NATO to take a more high-profile role in their defense - something they hope Obama's visit will reinforce.

"It is a very strong message to the region that the United States is taking the security of its eastern European NATO allies seriously," Estonia armed forces commander Maj. Gen. Riho Terras told The Associated Press.

Baltic leaders want NATO to establish permanent bases in the region, but some allies have been wary of doing anything that might endanger a 1997 agreement with Moscow under which NATO pledged not to permanently station substantial numbers of soldiers in Eastern Europe.

The issue is likely to come up as Obama meets the Baltic presidents Wednesday in a 18th-century palace in Tallinn.

"The current situation shows that the principle of collective territorial defense hasn't gone away - on the contrary," Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves said Sunday, marking the 20th anniversary of the exit of the last Russian troops from Estonian territory.

The relations between the Baltic countries and Russia were chilly even before the Ukraine crisis. Moscow routinely accuses them of discriminating against their Russian-speaking minorities.

About one-third of Estonia's 1.3 million residents have Russian as their mother tongue. Many of them feel detached from Estonian society and get their news from Kremlin-controlled Russian TV stations.

Ruben Airapetyan, a 19-year-old student at a vocational school in Tallinn, said he only speaks Russian and English - not Estonian. He didn't share the enthusiasm that many ethnic Estonians feel over Obama's visit.

"This visit seems a bit strange to me. Such a powerful man arriving in this small country," he said. "I don't have any hatred for Americans. The problem is I don't know what news to believe in."

___

Liudas Dapkus reported from Vilnius, Lithuania.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • InternationalMore>>

  • Kerry: US open to talks with Iran on Islamic State

    Kerry: US open to talks with Iran on Islamic State

    Monday, September 15 2014 8:31 PM EDT2014-09-16 00:31:47 GMT
    Reconnaissance planes at the ready, France called together diplomats to come up with a coherent global strategy Monday to combat extremists from the Islamic State group, minus the two countries who share most of...
    As more than two dozen nations pledged Monday to help Iraq fight the Islamic State militants, the United States said it was open to talking to Iran about a role in resolving the crisis, despite Washington's earlier...
  • Rampant Ebola fear takes toll on Africa tourism

    Rampant Ebola fear takes toll on Africa tourism

    Monday, September 15 2014 7:11 PM EDT2014-09-15 23:11:06 GMT
    Ebola is thousands of miles away from Kenya's pristine Indian Ocean beaches, but the deadly disease appears to be discouraging tourism there and elsewhere in this vast continent.
    Ebola is thousands of miles away from Kenya's pristine Indian Ocean beaches, but the deadly disease appears to be discouraging tourism there and elsewhere in this vast continent.
  • Hurricane Odile slams Mexico's Baja California

    Hurricane Odile slams Mexico's Baja California

    Monday, September 15 2014 6:51 PM EDT2014-09-15 22:51:35 GMT
    Hurricane Odile raked the Baja California Peninsula with strong winds and heavy rains early Monday as locals and tourists in the resort area of Los Cabos began to emerge from shelters and assess the damage.
    Hurricane Odile blazed a trail of destruction through Mexico's Baja California Peninsula on Monday that leveled everything from ramshackle homes to luxury hotels and big box stores, leaving entire neighborhoods as...