Russia gave the United States a disparaging snub this past July 4 when it sent long-range bombers off the coasts of both Alaska and California, followed by a congratulatory letter to President Obama.
The move is meant to reassure NATO allies in eastern Europe that the U.S. stands behind them. But it comes a year late.
The number of Ukrainian civilians now displaced due to conflict in eastern Ukraine now exceeds 800,000, according to a recent report UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. As the ceasefire with Russian separatists in the region remains shaky, militaries in the Baltic states are bracing themselves for more Russian aggression.
With tension high in the Baltic States over the possibility of a Russian invasion, Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves has called for a permanent NATO force to be stationed in the state to preempt Russian aggression.
In response to increasingly aggressive Russian military moves, Lithuania announced Friday that it will increase defense spending by one third -- more than the nation has allocated to defense since becoming a NATO member in 2004.
"We reaffirmed the door to NATO membership remains open to nations who can meet our high standards."
"...no one seems to want to call what is going on in Ukraine an invasion."
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