Obama and Nordic Leaders United Against Russian Aggression

Nordic flagsPresident Barack Obama said Friday that an agreement between the U.S. and five Nordic nations to increase cooperation in the face of rising Russian aggression is an effort to ensure that “smaller nations are not bullied by larger nations.”

The president hosted the leaders of Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland and Iceland at the White House for a summit covering issues that included Islamic State terrorism, climate change and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP) deal.

“We’re united in our concern about Russia’s growing aggressive military presence and posture in the Baltic/Nordic region,” Obama told reporters after multilateral talks….

Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven said Friday that “the transatlantic link” is “key to preserving European and global security….”

Obama hailed the Nordic countries for their global cooperation and contributions, saying they “consistently punch above their weight.” But they are reluctantly being pulled into the standoff between Russia and the West, said one analyst.

“They are very uncomfortable because they all desire a more healthy and positive partnership with Russia, but over the last two years [Russian President Vladimir] Putin has changed his relationship with the West,” said Jorge Benitez, director of NATOSource and senior fellow of the Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security at the Atlantic Council.

“He [Putin] has chosen to use military force against his neighbors. He has chosen to do a lot of more aggressive intelligence, information warfare and political coercion against them. So they have had to reassess how they are going to react to Russia,” Benitez said.

Image: Nordic flags (photo: Government of Denmark)