Obama to Baltic Leaders: NATO Is Behind You

U.S. president also holds talks with British, French and Italian counterparts.

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U.S. President Barack Obama held telephone conversations on Saturday with leaders of Britain, France, Italy and three Baltic countries, amid rising tensions in Ukraine, the White House said in a statement.

The president and his counterparts agreed that Russia must pull its military forces back to their bases and allow international observers into Crimea, according to a White House statement.

In a conference call with the leaders of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia - which have joined the European Union and escaped the shadow of Russia - Obama reassured them of the U.S. and NATO's "unwavering commitment" to their security. NATO has boosted its Baltic air policing missions since the crisis began.

"The President reaffirmed the United States' unwavering commitment to our collective defense commitments under the North Atlantic Treaty and our enduring support for the security and democracy of our Baltic allies," the White House said in a statement about the telephone call Obama held.

Obama spoke with Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite, Latvian President Andris Berzins, and Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves.

Obama held separate calls with British Prime Minister David Cameron, French President Francois Hollande and Italy's Prime Minister Matteo Renzi. They rejected the proposed separatist referendum in Crimea and called for the quick formation of a contact group to provide the basis for dialogue between Ukraine and Russia.

"The leaders made clear that Russia's continued violation of international law will isolate it from the international community," the White House said.

U.S. President Barack Obama talks on the phone in the Oval Office with Russian President Vladimir Putin about the situation in Ukraine, March 1, 2014.Credit: Reuters

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