Obama Arrives in Tallinn, Heads to Kadriorg to Meet Ilves
US President Barack Obama arrived on Air Force One at 6:22 today in what will be a 12-hour visit to the Estonian capital.
Ukraine and European security will be high on the agenda, as the president's visit is seen in the context of assurance for European allies that NATO will honor its agreements.
Obama is making the stop en route to Wales, where NATO is holding its summit on September 4 and 5.
In the weeks since Obama's visit was announced, several concrete steps have already been announced, such as a new NATO response force of at least 4,000 troops from seven northern European countries. As far as bases, there is political support within NATO for deployments of a more permanent nature of 300-600 troops in each country on NATO's eastern border, though officials have made semantic distinctions, shying away from use of the word "permanent."
In the days immediately before Obama's arrival, the main outstanding issue that crystallized is whether the US will call for cancellation of a 1997 special arrangement between NATO and Russia, the Founding Act, that some see as an obstacle to permanent NATO bases here.
In Estonia, Foreign Minister Urmas Paet welcomed the president to the country, before a limousine whisked Obama to the city center, where he will be making use of the Swissotel in between meetings. Obama will meet with President Toomas Hendrik Ilves this morning, holding a joint press conference at 11:40.
Obama will address the public at 16:10 at Nordea Concert Hall.
The early morning arrival went smoothly logistically. Led by the Police and Border Guard, the local operation to provide security for the visit is the biggest the country has seen, involving some 2,000 civilian and military personnel.
Here is a gallery (on the Estonian site) of police preparations during the pre-dawn hours.