Transcript for President Obama Heads to the Crisis Talks
President Obama heading to the hot zone today stopping in Vladimir Putin's backyard. Neighbor in Estonia a show of support for the region before huddling with NATO allies for the first time. Mobilizing. Its military might hello everyone I'm Michelle president New York. The world is watching so much at stake ABC's Karen Travers watching it all for us and joining us live now from our Washington bureau Karen. Good afternoon Michelle this is a very big trip for President Obama -- very high stakes trip as he said that first up Estonia which borders Russia -- is of course part of the former Soviet Union that is a clear sign to Vladimir Putin President Obama making -- stop there then it's on. To the NATO summit in Wales where right now on the table is a plan. To have these leaders of these nations help Ukrainian government deal with that growing Russian threat. Russia continues its push -- -- eastern Ukraine and pro rusher rebels are still gaining ground there. Needing little to no resistance from Ukrainian forces. And -- this week NATO leaders are considering a military planned to stop that aggression it equipped the airlines to respond to a port security challenges of wherever that way. -- -- -- President Obama is off on -- high stakes trip this week his first stop Estonia which shares a border with Russia. Next some -- in NATO summit in Wales where a rapid reaction force is on the table. That would be about 4000 NATO troops that leaders say -- would travel light but strike hard. And be able to deploy within just hours. Ukrainian forces dug trenches on the limits of a key -- CD in southeast Ukraine trying to secure the area against in -- by -- pro Russia rebels. Residents there tried to keep life as close to normal as possible children started a new school year yesterday. The UN says the number of people fleeing the violence -- people inside Ukraine has more than doubled in the past month and it could be even higher. Many of staying with families and friends. And choosing not to register review authority's one top senate Democrats in Ukraine and says the US should provide Kiev with weapons to fight the rebels if you are being invaded. Day Russia. You have to be able to defend yourself. And today reports that Russian president Vladimir Putin -- top European official that if he wanted to take Ukrainian capital of Kiev he can do it in two weeks. The Kremlin did not deny that statement and Michelle just few moments ago at the White House briefing the president's spokesman said that statement is consistent with Putin's rhetoric -- absolutely ratcheting up the president's stop in Estonia former Soviet Union countries -- Karen could this. Visit be seen as provocative especially by Russia's present. Certainly could be seen as provocative but it's mostly being characterized as -- very significant sign of support for those Baltic States Estonia especially where the president is going but also Latvia and Lithuania also were part of the former Soviet Union people there including -- readers are saying -- -- very good sign for the president to come here to show that. -- have the support of the western leaders the US and of course NATO. But Michelle the president has been to that region before he's been right there I've got Clinton's back door. And certainly hasn't stopped anything at who has done in recent months and Karen are -- hearing anything about. What President Obama will say his message we'll be more aggressive. And then what he's been. Talking about before he's been taking some heat for being too cautious in the face of the world crisis that's what everybody wanted to note today at the White House briefing Michelle but the white house Press Secretary was very cagey said the president will at a press conference tomorrow in Estonia he's gonna take a couple of questions. And then it's on -- that NATO summit but he really did not getting his specifics about what the US would agree to whether or not the US would actually. Commit forces commit military troops to that support on in Eastern Europe and whether or not it would be when you have that rapid response team -- the US would be doing and that. I think what we see what the president says over the next couple of days but it looks like they want to have a strong statement of solidarity and support from all of those NATO leaders at the summit this week Karen Travers reporting from Washington thank you very much. And while at the NATO summit it's not just the Russian aggression the president is dealing with but how to form a strong alliance to confront. The Islamic militant group ices let's go live now to a news conference starting. At the Pentagon here is rear admiral John Kirby. US special operations forces using manned and unmanned aircraft. Destroyed an encampment. And a vehicle. Using several hellfire missiles and laser guided munitions. This operation was a direct strike against the -- -- network specifically the group's leader. Ahmed Abdi now Mohamed also known as Ahmed -- done. And we are still assessing. The results of the operation. And will provide additional information when and if appropriate. Not going to be able provide specifics. About unit. Or the intelligence itself. And certainly not anything we're guarded two tactics techniques and procedures. The operation. It occurred south of Mogadishu located in south central Somalia and it did result. And the destruction of that vehicle. I think it's important to remind everybody -- in September 2013 get done publicly claimed -- -- was responsible for the Westgate mall attack. Which killed and injured dozens and named -- Under the leadership of data on how should Bob is claimed responsibility for many bombings including suicide attacks in Mogadishu and in central and northern Somalia. Typically targeting officials and perceived allies of the federal government of Somalia as well as the former transit transitional federal government of small. A militant wing of the Somali council of Islamic courts -- Bob has occupied most of southern Samara Somalia since 2006. Claimed responsibility for the deaths of numerous government officials aid workers peace activists and journalists. Name the foreign terrorist organization by the Department of State February 2008 -- -- is conducted terrorist activities in the region that have resulted. The loss of much an innocent life. They've also continued to planned plots. Targeting westerners including US people US personnel in East Africa. In recent months -- Bob claimed responsibility for suicide bombing in Djibouti. -- -- a Turkish national and wounded several western soldiers as well as a car bomb at the Mogadishu airport to targeted and killed members. And the United Nations convoy. So the operation that we conducted we believe is an example of the US government and our allies and partners commitment. To the people -- the government of Somalia to detect deter disrupt and defeat violent extremists who threaten progress in the region as well as to threaten. As as well as threatened to conduct terrorist attacks against innocent people around the world. And we're gonna continue to -- old tools -- our disposable. Disposal financial diplomatic intelligence and of course the military. To dismantle -- and other terrorist groups -- threaten US interest as well as the interest of our allies and our partner nations and one final kind of like to make. On Iraq as you know over the weekend at the request of the Iraqi Government the united states military air dropped humanitarian aid to the town of family. Home to thousands of Shiite Turkmen who have been cut off our had been cut off from receiving food water medical supplies for two months -- US air force delivered the state alongside aircraft from Australia France and in nineteen -- also dropped much needed supplies. In conjunction with -- -- -- US aircraft conducted coordinated air strikes against nearby ISI helped terrorists in order to support. This humanitarian assistance operation. And thereby help facilitate the actual delivery of the eight. While we continue to monitor the situation and -- at this time we assess that Iraqi and Kurdish forces are in control of the township. And -- providing for the security needs of the citizens there so further strikes remain a possibility. And of course but we believe that that the township is under the control of Iraqi Kurdish forces. As we said before one of our core military objectives in Iraq -- to join with international partners to address humanitarian crises. And where and when we have the ability to do that -- they do it. With take questions from. That the volume. You do you destructive target single target and we can't let him disabled vehicle or. For the two to strike for two targets. What is just one vehicle. There was one vehicle and an encampment -- would describe -- cattle related on the opening week that the strike was taken at. An encampment and vehicle that was at -- -- -- There -- and we -- them we mean by strike 11 missile now. As -- said several. Hellfire missiles as well as precision guided munitions so there were there was. Plural terms of -- munitions dropped that they were dropped on one target an encampment where -- vehicle was who was nearby. Good literary evidence that afterward that anywhere from our. Well we're assessing the results right now Bob and that's that's where I'm just not going to be able to -- and I'm not gonna get into the trying to assess the effectiveness. We certainly believe that. We -- we're aiming at. And based on intelligence that as -- that we believe was actionable in other words. A strong enough we we took this strike but I wouldn't get into assessing the effectiveness right now. There. I'm just not gonna get and assessment trying to Obama to connect leading -- where did you know -- when you know. If and when as I said earlier and I said last night if and when you know we have more information that we can share we certainly -- Yet. Order and laser guided munitions. Does that mean that there were US forces on the ground to -- the targets. There were no US forces. Used for either before or after the strikes -- US forces -- Before or -- somebody else on the ground that was -- the targets. Well. All I would -- is that you know we continue to work with. With partners and that it in in Somalia and in the region but -- -- game specific. Smaller government or -- -- it's obviously about missions for. -- -- -- I don't have -- tech dot gun. Then notification. Process. But this is very much in keeping with the kinds of operations that we. That we conduct throughout the region and in partnership with the you know with the leadership there. The smaller government announced earlier last month this new mission operation Indian Ocean about. Combating Al -- been particularly targeting. They're access to -- says she's off there are sources of revenue was this strike in conjunction with -- operations. -- It ago was kill but I -- you what's been done. Specific question right now but if he were to be killed what we think would say about the group's. Will move would would mean for the -- going forward. How important would that be. Well without speculating about. Whether he was in fact killed and -- -- he is. Recognize. Appointed leader of the option Bob network in Somalia so. He was killed this is a. Very significant blow to their network. To their organization. And we believe to their ability to continue. To conduct terrorist attacks now mind you it's a network and we understand that. And -- more mindful that. There are that remain. Other leaders of the organization at large. But he's a recognized leader and if we kill them significant blow to their. Organization and to their abilities. Thank you -- more broadly can you answer the critics who are saying that the administration does not have. A strategy does not have a counter terror strategy and mideast strategy one that's good enough. -- is there a strategy can you articulate that stretch before us an answer those. Absolutely there's a strategy. Far approach to the Middle East and I can only speak from a military perspective and for the Pentagon. But we have been. Consistently going. After the terrorist threat and that part of the world not just up part of the world as I just as I just read. The mission is very clear. We are there to support. Iraqi and Kurdish forces as they take the fight -- -- we are there to provide humanitarian assistance where and when we can just we just talked about that over the weekend. And we are certainly there. To help defend and protect US personnel and facilities so the mission set inside Iraq is very very clear. The strategy with respect military strategy -- respect to the Middle East also has been very clear and it's not just something that. You know -- we just started -- time we've been we've been going after terrorist networks that part of the world. For more than a decade we've. With very good success doesn't mean it's been eliminated. But we certainly -- men -- very active and very energetic and the objectives have been very very clear. You feel that you've gone after -- As soon as you possibly the question is. How good and how early was the intelligence that was being briefed to the White House about the -- threat and and and could more been done sooner it's. Well I'm not going to speak about intelligence matters and I'm certainly not going to speak. For and intelligence issues that were raised it to the White House that's a question better directed to the intelligence community needs them away and have it but -- -- but. To your larger issue here. We've talked about -- -- for many months now and as I said before we were very closely monitoring and tracking. -- progress -- growth their development. Well before. They. Rolled in to -- so this is not an organization that we haven't been watching. The speed with which. They took control the north in Iraq. Definitely. Got a lot of people's attention and I said that publicly to that nobody expected that four divisions of the Iraqi Army -- just gonna -- the way they did. So there was a speed there that that certainly lose. Did not go unnoticed but this is an organization we've been long watching -- And I think it's. Helpful to go back and just look at the last couple of months meanwhile fixated right now on. Targeted airstrikes which we are conducting -- very good tactical effect but. Long before that started we -- our presence in the Persian gulf we. Added more security assistance -- personnel. In and around Baghdad we. Stood up to join operation centers which are active and helping right now as we speak. Them in terms of advising and assisting. And -- sharing information with Iraqi Kurdish forces. In and then and then we have done. Numerous air drops in two different operations. To alleviate suffering so. The military has been very active here the other thing that we should just and then this is not a small point is -- there's not going to be just a military solution. Ultimately the long term answer has to be. Inclusive responsible and responsive. Good governance inside Iraq to alleviate to help take away those conditions. That that folks like IS -- can exploit for their own purposes and answer your question. -- We're. -- question. You may know the majority of the foreign fighters -- -- -- -- so. Are going to stay here through that -- Turkey. My question is how he didn't create. -- -- And comforting times. Our stuff from me -- valuing Turkey's role. Of information do you think Turkey is cooperating we have a strong relationship -- Not I know that I'm not going to. I'm not -- you know I'm not gonna answer a question that should be asked of the Turkish government what I'm telling you is we Turkey has a stake here we understand that. It's an important partner in the region a NATO ally. -- The Turkish government has concerns. About foreign fighters and and right they -- And we're going there. Next week and I think I have no doubt that this will be a topic of discussion between secretary -- counterpart. We. Let me let. You -- -- to get help for his role. A helpful role that we believe that. Turkey because they have concerns just like other -- partners in the region are our. Our. Extending their effort and their energy in trying to address this is best they can I'm not gonna -- -- more -- -- that. Could you give us accurate picture of the situation on the ground the most of them what are we -- the United States keep. Launching airstrikes. At that location. Because ISO keeps trying to take it back as I said last week as long as they continue pose a threat to the facility we're gonna continue to -- -- and we are. On the subject of the secretary's trip secretary Kerry wrote in the New York Times over the weekend that he and secretary Gil will be asking can't -- island allies and other. Nations for help in this potential campaign against crisis in Syria they're much more can you tell us about how many nations are gonna approach. Which ones and what they'll ask for specifically and -- -- that coalition. I think what we're still sort of put together an agenda here Phil. Four on the sidelines of the NATO summit that you're right secretary hagel and secretary -- -- wanna get together with some of these. Partner nations. Many of them are. From -- NATO allies of course in I don't have a list right now I think this is going to be more -- north informal arrangement. Get on the sidelines of the. Already very full agenda. In Wales. Where -- there will try to get together and talk about the contributions that have been made. -- by these other nations. And certainly to encourage others who haven't contributed yet. To look at contributing as well -- and I don't have there's a don't have a date certain on the counter time and they're gonna do that but we're we're looking for those opportunities. And it could be more than one it could beat it. You know they. That they had these discussions in more than one setting. With a smaller numbers of the -- at a time. This level since about what they'll ask for -- they want partners for airstrikes to they want humanitarian it would be described earlier. Some we somewhere -- between what would ask for. We want. Partner nations to contribute what they are able and willing to contribute. In whatever fashion they're willing to contributed an understanding of course that they have. -- domestic concerns as well and and their own legislative bodies to worked on -- and population to. And in a different views on on assisting. Against the -- sale threat we respect that so it's not about going there would demands are a laundry list. It's about going there to thank them for what they've been doing encourage them to continue to assist in whatever way they they -- -- You can get back to Somalia. He had mentioned that you are mindful of some other leaders that were in the area and I was wondering because we have officials in Somalia saying that it was a senior Al -- meeting. Do you know the other targets heal without saying whether or not they were hit were there any other targets that were at best entertainment. We're still assessing the results -- would I would -- is the principal target was mr. and a and we're still assessing the results and again if we have more information about. Others who may have been killed -- that -- and certainly shares this weekend. Football and he said that there was an unmanned and on the end. Attacked. Was the actual hit was it by drowning her was hit by the media -- what it. Said was manned and unmanned aircraft participated in the strike I didn't actually say. What type of aircraft. -- launched these. These missiles and precision guided munitions and I won't get into. Detailing media platforms here today. But if -- do you consider day operation at a -- immediate success and if so how the Defense Department defining success. When it comes as operations -- -- the Islamic state. -- -- -- Q is potential rescue operation that US military was looking -- and decided not to do and that the intelligence indicating there -- 2000 people on the mountain that one off. And then you just -- the Islamic state must undertake Mosul dam so I just like some clarity on what success looks like for this campaign. I don't know that I'd call it campaign -- on -- leaving that aside. We do believe that the operations. And -- have been successful men obviously as I said. Iraqi Security Forces and Kurdish forces are now -- Are in control of the township. -- -- we're watching that we're monitoring that we're not taking have to legislate to Joe's question on Mosul dam. If we need to continue to take strikes in and around -- only to disrupt. I sale will do that. But so far we believe the mission has succeeded and. By and large because we're able to get it -- provisions -- to the people. And we know that it got into the right hands and that they've been able to sustain themselves with the food water that's been provided. And I should remind you that it wasn't just us doing -- -- -- said there -- other countries involved and that we're grateful for the support. The president also has been very very clear about. From look from an anti ISL perspective what we're trying to do an inch -- disrupt their ability to continue. To put US personnel and facilities. Risk. Or to further spur more humanitarian crises. But ultimately we've also -- -- this -- question success that. The real measure success is that their ideology is ultimately defeated in the only way that's going to be done. Is too good governance -- said that time and again but I think it's it's worth repeating there's not going to be a military solution to this we're not the answer. SIL. Inside -- -- not the US military the answer is the ideology gets reject rejected because there's good governments responsive government inclusive government. In Iraq and frankly in Syria -- well. -- question. -- Any before this video was released today fifty inside Asperger's that any indication -- suspicion that he was killed in the same time -- James -- I don't know that anybody had definitive knowledge one way or the other as I would say and that and I and I remind you that we still can't confirm. The press reporting. About this this next video and that's. Potential new murder. So I am. I wouldn't be able to care Janet -- -- another that that we that we knew when we're we're trying to just like you. That we're trying to find out ground truth here. This about the operation was there any and intelligence that they -- class -- An imminent terrorist attack was that one of the reasons why this action is taken -- was. I think I waited out in my opening this action was taken because. The history of terrorist attacks and violence that this organization. Is responsible for and continues to be responsible for but again and I'll just -- actionable intelligence let us to that site. Where we believe he was. But I wouldn't talk about the specifics of exactly what intelligence was composed of yet. I was wondering if you might do to bring us up to speed on -- latest understanding about size and scope of Russian troop levels both. On the border with Ukraine and inside. I'm Ukraine and certainly it has. Secretary. Having the chance to talk to his Russian counterpart in the last couple days about the escalating situation. Sure he's not spoken -- minister -- years since the last time -- out. To -- which was I think more than a week ago. We continue to assess that Russian forces. Aggregate. Along the. Border with Ukraine. I'm -- as I typically -- to get into hard number but. It's. Certainly north of 101000. Remains north of 101000. More important -- -- numbers are ours I said the capability these are battalion tactical groups that are highly capable. Very ready. Very close to the border closer than we saw on the -- And could move literally on a moment's notice. In addition -- that we continue to see support for separate us and we continue to see Russian forces conventional and special forces. Inside Ukraine in the not I would again without getting into a specific number I'd say in that thousands. Is safe. And nothing is changed about our position that. And that activity needs to stop those troops need to leave the support for the separatist needs to stop. And we want those troops pulled away from the border with Ukraine says it -- again we continue to see. Action by a Moscow that does nothing but increase tensions inside Ukraine. And sperm. Additional violence. Sure. And you are watching the Pentagon briefing and continue to watch that streamed -- you've been hearing an update from. Secretary. Rear admiral John Kirby on many issues including. Russia and Ukraine as well as. Ices and also a recent strike today in Somalia you can keep up with the story of course in real time by downloading the ABC news -- and star in this story for exclusive updates on ago. For now I'm Michelle Franzen in New York.
This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.