On a visit to Estonia, President Obama has said America’s resolve remains unbowed over the “barbarism” of Islamists who executed Steven Sotloff.
He contrasted the journalist’s courage – like that of James Foley, also beheaded in a video – with those who made the “absurd claim that they kill in the name of religion”.
“We will not be intimidated. Their horrific acts only unite us as a country and stiffen our resolve to take the fight against these terrorists. And those who make the mistake of harming Americans will learn that we will not forget and that our reach is long and that justice will be served,” Obama said.
The US leader also sought to reassure his Estonian counterpart Toomas Hendrink Ilves over fears of possible Russian aggression in the light of the Ukrainian conflict.
The three former Soviet Baltic states, all NATO members, expect concrete pledges at this week’s summit in Wales.
“I’ve come here first and foremost to reaffirm the commitment of the United States to the security of Estonia. As NATO allies, we have Article 5 duties to our collective defence, that is a commitment that is unbreakable, it is unwavering, it is eternal, and Estonia will never stand alone,” the president told a joint news conference.
On Ukraine, Obama said a ceasefire could only be effective if Russia stopped “pretending” it was not active in the conflict and stopped sending troops and weapons into the country.