US Planning More Forces in the Baltic

President Barack Obama signed an executive order Thursday authorizing sanctions on “key sectors of the Russian economy,” according to a White House statement. Obama said Russia’s actions in Ukraine left the US no choice, though he acknowledged such sanctions could “also be disruptive to the global economy.” The US also is planning to send additional forces to reassure NATO allies in the Baltic in light of Russia’s military annexation of Crimea, Vice President Joseph Biden said during a visit to the region on Wednesday. “We stand resolutely with our Baltic allies in support of the Ukrainian people and against Russian aggression,” said Biden, speaking alongside Latvia and Lithuania’s heads of state in Vilnius, Lithuania, on March 19. On top of the additional F-15s, which were sent to buttress Baltic air policing, “we’re exploring a number of additional steps to increase the pace and scope of our military cooperation” with the Baltic states, he said. US efforts would include “rotating US forces of the Baltic region to conduct ground and naval exercises, and training missions,” explained Biden. He said the Administration has reached out to other NATO allies to provide “additional contributions” as well. British Defense Minister Phillip Hammond announced that the Royal Air Force will send several Typhoon fighters to augment Poland’s fighter contingent when it takes over Baltic air policing from the US in April. (Biden remarks.)