Published: Tue, August 01, 2017
Hi-Tech | By Ted Wilson

Baltic states presidents meet US VP on transatlantic relations

Baltic states presidents meet US VP on transatlantic relations

The Georgian army began two weeks of military exercises with the United States and other partner countries on Sunday, a day before U.S. Vice President Mike Pence visits the ex-Soviet nation.

"At this very moment, Russia continues to seek to redraw worldwide borders by force, undermine democracy in sovereign nations, and divide the free nations of Europe, one against another", Pence said at a press conference, alluding to the Russian annexation of Crimea.

Vice President Mike Pence said the US stands with the Baltic nations against any threats from Russian Federation as tensions continue to flare between the former Cold War foes.

In the Baltic countries, whose leaders Pence is scheduled to meet on the first leg of his trip in Estonia's capital Tallinn, the fear of Russian Federation is arguably the greatest, and most acute, among the countries visited by the vice president. The vice president reaffirmed President Donald Trump's commitment to signing sanction legislation targeting Russian Federation, passed overwhelmingly last week by Congress.

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Later Monday, Pence is due in Georgia, a non-NATO member which has shared concerns about Russian Federation, and also then with Montenegro that has recently become NATO's 29th member on June 5.

During Pence's visit, some 800 Georgian and 1,600 USA troops are taking part in the previously planned Noble Partner 2017 exercises.

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Analyst Andres Kasekamp added on the same channel that "the timing, before Russia's Zapad exercises (in September in Belarus, near the Lithuanian border) shows that the USA wants to say: 'We are watching what's happening here very closely and you can be certain of our support'".

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Pence said that the USA president has made it clear that every North Atlantic Treaty Organisation member state must contribute 2 percent of GDP to security.

Some in the three Baltic countries fear they will be the next to fall, after Russia's annexation of Crimea and its involvement with Ukrainian separatists, NBC News said Monday.

"The President and I remain very hopeful that we'll see different behavior by the Russian government", he said, "and we continue to believe that if Russia will change its behavior our relationship can change for the good".

Pence's remarks came before members of the US, French, British and Estonian militaries. "America stands with the nations and people of the Baltic states and we always will".

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President Vladimir Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said Monday that it will take time for the U.S.to rid itself of what he called "political schizophrenia". As former U.S. ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul pointed out on NBC's Today show, it will also hurt Russia in other ways, such as applications for visas to travel to the US.

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