Barack Obama has proclaimed an unwavering and permanent US commitment to the security of its Nato allies as he mounted a show of solidarity with European nations anxious about Russia's aggression in Ukraine.
During a visit to Estonia, Obama also announced the US would send more air force units and aircraft to the Baltics, and called Estonia's Amari air base an ideal location to base those forces. Standing shoulder to shoulder with the Estonian president, Toomas Hendrik Ilves, Obama ticked through a list of US military resources already at work in the region, and said the US had a duty under the Nato charter to the alliance's collective defence.
"It is unbreakable, it is unwavering, it is eternal. And Estonia will never stand alone," Obama said in Tallinn, Estonia's port capital.
Later on Wednesday, Obama and Ilves were to hold broader security talks that include the leaders of Latvia and Lithuania. Then Obama departs for Wales, where a two-day Nato summit will begin on Thursday.
Nato allies plan to agree during the summit to a stepped-up response to Russia, including the rapid response force, which will involve positioning more troops and equipment in the Baltics and elsewhere in eastern Europe. It is unclear whether the plan will satisfy the concerns of the Baltic nations, who have been pressing Nato for permanent bases in the region.