The nations have condemned Russian President Vladimir Putin
for moving to annex Ukraine's Crimea, and the White House has
said it is preparing a fresh round of sanctions in response.
Biden's visit is intended to reassure nations like Poland and
the Baltics that the United States will live up to its NATO
pledge to protect allies under attack. Estonia, Latvia,
Lithuania and Poland are all members of both the European Union
and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization — unlike Ukraine.
Biden told Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves on Monday
that the United States may rotate U.S. forces into the region to
conduct ground and naval exercises and training missions.
Washington also has added more fighter jets to help patrol
airspace over the Baltics.
On Tuesday, Biden was holding talks with Lithuanian President
Dalia Grybauskaite and Latvian President Andris Berzins at
Lithuania's presidential palace. The leaders are slated to speak
to reporters at 1:20 p.m. local time, 11:20 GMT.
Grybauskaite called Biden's visit "symbolic."
"The situation is alarming," she told him at the start of their
Grybauskaite's chief foreign advisor said the talks would be
wide-ranging. "We will talk about what measures must be taken to
ensure security in the region. We mean not only national
security or military measures, but also energy, cyber security,
which we must take care of together", Jovita Neliupsiene told
The Baltics are worried not just about Russia's intentions but
also about the economic impact of rising tensions if Russia
retaliates through trade bans or by withholding natural gas.
Last week, Russia suspended food imports through Lithuania's
major port, Klaipeda, a move local businesses saw as Moscow's
way of exerting political pressure.
Latvia's finance minister said on Monday that the EU should
compensate any countries hurt by its sanctions against Russia.
(Reporting by Roberta Rampton; Additional reporting by Andrius
Sytas; editing by Larry King)
[© 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights
Copyright 2014 Reuters. All rights reserved. This material may not be published,
broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.