Obama denounces Russia's aggressive military stance

US-POLITICS-OBAMA-NORDIC LEADERS SUMMIT US President Barack Obama speaks during a state dinner with Nordic leaders at the White House in Washington | AFP

US President Barack Obama warned Russia about its military build-up in northern Europe on Friday as he hosted leaders from five Nordic countries at the White House.

"We are united in our concern about Russia's growing, aggressive military presence and posture in the Baltic-Nordic region," Obama said at the end of the meeting.

As tensions with Moscow spike over a plethora of issues from aerial military interceptions to Ukraine, Obama looked to make common cause with Russia's near neighbors in Denmark, Iceland, Finland, Sweden and Norway.

Earlier, Obama said the six nations agreed on the need for a European order not based on might.

"We believe that our citizens have the right to live in freedom and security, free from terrorism, and a Europe where smaller nations are not bullied by larger nations."

Obama put Vladmir Putin's government on notice that, while willing to deescalate tensions, the White House would also be prepared to counter any perceived Russian aggression.

"We will be maintaining ongoing dialogue and seek cooperation with Russia but we also want to make sure that we are prepared and strong and we want to encourage Russia to keep its military activities in full compliance with international obligations," he said.

In a joint statement, the six countries expressed concern about Russia's actions in the Baltic Sea region—"its nuclear posturing, its undeclared exercises, and the provocative actions taken by Russian aircraft and naval vessels."

But as Obama hosted the meeting, Putin warned he will consider measures to "end threats" from US anti-missile systems that were recently activated in Romania. Tensions with Russia are currently at levels not seen since the Cold War.

Moscow's invasion of Ukraine and annexation of Crimea prompted biting sanctions against the Russian economy. Russian-backed militants have also taken control of swaths of the eastern part of the country.

In the joint statement, the group said they would only lift all sanctions on Russia once Crimea is returned to Ukrainian control.

"Russia's illegal occupation and attempted annexation of Crimea, which we do not accept, its aggression in Donbas, and its attempts to destabilize Ukraine are inconsistent with international law and violate the established European security order," the statement read.

Russia and the West have also clashed over Moscow's military intervention in Syria and its support for the regime of Bashar al-Assad. And Russian aircraft now routinely harass NATO and Nordic military assets near the border and beyond.

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Topics : #Barack Obama

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