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For Obama, West's inability to stop Russian advances clouds reassurance message in the Baltics


WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama is traveling to Russia's backyard for the second time this year to assure nervous nations of his ironclad commitment to their security.

But his objectives will be clouded by the West's inability to halt the Russian aggression that has stoked fears in former Soviet republics.

Russia's provocations appear to only be increasing in the leadup to Obama's trip this week to Estonia for meetings with Baltic leaders and to Wales for a NATO summit. Ukrainian officials claimed last week that Russia had invaded with tanks and armored vehicles, a development that was followed quickly by the capture of a strategic coastal town by pro-Kremlin separatists.

Western sanctions have affected the Russian economy, but have not shifted President Vladimir Putin's strategy in Ukraine.

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