Obama Praises Nordic Nations After Russia-Focused Summit

Obama Praises Nordic Nations After Russia-Focused Summit
Obama Praises Nordic Nations After Russia-Focused Summit

US President Barack Obama praised Sweden, Denmark, Finland, Norway and Iceland at a star-studded state dinner on Friday, lauding the nations for their global influence on civil rights, humanitarian issues and curbing climate change.

The red carpet glamor followed a White House summit where Obama and the leaders of the five nations presented a united front against Moscow’s recent military aggression in Ukraine and the Baltic region, Reuters reported.

But the meeting was more about soft diplomacy than launching ambitious foreign policy endeavors, given that Obama’s second and final term ends in January. Americans will vote in presidential elections on Nov. 8.

“I thought this was a very useful and important conversation, although there was probably too much agreement to make for as exciting a multilateral meeting as I sometimes participate in,” Obama said.

More than 300 guests mingled with diplomats, tech and Fortune 500 CEOs, White House officials and political donors in a glass-ceiling tent built around a tree on the South Lawn.

Hand-rolled beeswax candles and strings of lights reflected off 10-foot pillars of ice, a homage to the northern lights.


The summit was aimed in part at sending a message to a nation not on the guest list: Russia, which annexed Ukraine’s Crimea region in 2014 and has stepped up its military posture.

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization is planning its biggest buildup in eastern Europe since the Cold War to try to deter further Russian aggression, and Denmark and Norway said on Friday they would contribute to the “enhanced allied forward presence” with NATO.

“We will be maintaining ongoing dialogue and seek cooperation with Russia, but we also want to make sure that we are prepared and strong, and we want to encourage Russia to keep its military activities in full compliance with international obligations,” Obama said after the summit.

Obama has long expressed admiration for the pragmatic and liberal-leaning politics of the Nordic nations.

“There have been times where I’ve said, why don’t we just put all these small countries in charge for a while? And they could clean things up,” Obama said.