July 31 (UPI) -- Speaking in Estonia Monday, Vice President Mike Pence reinforced the United States' commitment to a NATO against aggression.
After speaking with leaders of Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia, three former Soviet Union republics but now NATO members bordering Russia, Pence commented, "A strong and united NATO is more necessary today than at any point since the collapse of Communism a quarter-century ago."
"No threat looms larger in the Baltic states than the specter of aggression from your unpredictable neighbor to the east," he added. "Under President Donald Trump, the United States of America rejects any attempts to use force, threats, intimidation or malign influence in the Baltic States or against any of our treaty allies."
Some in the three Baltic countries fear they will be the next to fall, in view of Russia's 2014 annexation of Crimea and its involvement with Ukrainian separatists, NBC News reported Monday.
Although Pence said the United States sought better relations with Russia, he restated that Article 5 of NATO's charter, which guarantees mutual defense, will be honored. President Donald Trump had previously suggested the United States would not help defend any NATO country that's not meeting its defense spending responsibility.
Referring to Russia's ouster of 755 members of the U.S. diplomatic staff Sunday, Pence said, "Recent diplomatic action taken by Moscow will not deter the commitment of the United States of America to our security, the security of our allies and the security of freedom loving nations around the world. [The United States] stands firmly behind our Article 5 pledge of mutual defense and an attack on one of us is an attack on us all."
Pence will conclude his three-day trip to Europe with visits to Montenegro, a NATO member, and to Georgia.