French President Francois Hollande’s plan to forge an alliance to confront Islamic State won’t include at least two of his country’s NATO allies if Russia joins in.
The presidents of Lithuania and Estonia, former Soviet republics that are now members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and the European Union, rejected any united fronts against the Islamist group that includes Russia. The two countries, which both border Russia, have criticized President Vladimir Putin’s government for supporting military interventions in Ukraine and Georgia.
“Lithuania won’t join any new coalitions that include Russia or that Russia wants to be part of,” Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite said on Friday after a meeting with her Latvian and Estonian counterparts in Palanga. Russia “still occupies the territory of another country and is carrying out military actions in two countries. That is, in Ukraine and Georgia.”
Estonian President Toomas Ilves backed Grybauskaite, saying that “we have to think seriously about any coalition that would involve an aggressive country right now.”
France is pressing its European partners to toughen up their security and intelligence capabilities across the continent, saying other countries’ shortcomings are to blame for the attacks in Paris last week. Hollande will meet U.S. President Barack Obama in Washington and Putin in Moscow next week. The three countries are stepping up attacks against Islamic State.