President Obama took a break from his family vacation and spoke to six world leaders on the phone about the Ukraine and Russia situation in Crimea.
He talked to British Prime Minister David Cameron, French President Francois Hollande, Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzu, and German Chancellor Angela Merkel. He also held a conference call with Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite, Latvian President Andris Berzins, and Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves.
Hollande tweeted out a picture of him on the phone with Obama.
— Élysée (@Elysee) March 8, 2014
This was the first time Obama spoke to any leader from the three Baltic states, who are also NATO members with economic ties to Russia. Russia’s state owned energy company Gazprom threatened to cut off gas to Ukraine if they do not pay back their $1.89 billion debt to Russia. The major gas pipelines travel through Europe, and the European Union vowed to help Ukraine get back on their feet. In recent years they changed the pipelines to allow gas to flow back into Ukraine, but that would mean less gas for their country.
Ambassadors to Hungary, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, and Poland sent a letter to House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and asked the US to boost their natural gas exports to Europe in case Russia cuts off their supply. Boehner addressed the issue in a recent Wall Street Journal op-ed.
In 1981, the CIA told President Reagan the US must warn Europe about pipelines to Europe and using then-Soviet Russia’s gas and oil for their energy. The CIA was worried Russia would one day hold Europe hostage.
The US sent six more F-15 fighter jets to NATO’s policing mission over the Baltic states. They will be put into action if Russia violates Baltic airspace.
Russia is in full control of Crimea, the autonomous republic of Ukraine. The peninsula formally asked to join the Russian Federation and scheduled a referendum on March 16.