Brexit, Russia and Terrorism Fears Loom Over President Obama’s Final NATO Summit Meeting

President Obama boarded Air Force One on Thursday before departing from Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland en route to the NATO summit meeting in Warsaw. (PHOTO CREDIT: Stephen Crowley/The New York Times)
President Obama boarded Air Force One on Thursday before departing from Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland en route to the NATO summit meeting in Warsaw. (PHOTO CREDIT: Stephen Crowley/The New York Times)

President Obama left for Poland on Thursday morning to attend a NATO summit meeting that is occurring against a tumultuous backdrop of Russian aggression in Eastern Europe, a migrant crisis and terrorism fears on the Continent’s southern rim, and internal disarray in the wake of Britain’s vote to leave the European Union.

Mr. Obama will confront all those forces in two hectic days in his final appearance at a summit meeting of the Atlantic alliance. In addition to his usual schedule, administration officials said they expected him to meet with Prime Minister David Cameron of Britain to discuss what comes next after the British vote.

“There hasn’t been another inflection point like this for the alliance since the fall of the Berlin Wall and the dissolution of the Soviet Union in ’89 to ’91,” Douglas E. Lute, the American ambassador to NATO, told reporters on Wednesday. “So this is a bit of a historic point.”

NATO will announce several military measures to deter Russia and to counter other threats. The alliance is strengthening its eastern flank by stationing four battalions of troops in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland, with one to be led by the United States. NATO will also place a Romanian-led brigade in southeast Europe.

The most important meetings will be held behind closed doors, where the leaders will discuss how to confront President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia, how to battle the foreign fighters of the Islamic State, and how to maintain the cohesion of Europe when its largest military power is leaving the European Union.

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SOURCE: NY Times, Mark Landler