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Pence Pledges US Commitment to NATO Allies

Vice President Mike Pence made it clear to leaders in the Baltic region that the United States is committed to protecting its NATO allies.

“Under President Donald Trump, the United States stands firmly behind our Article 5 pledge of mutual defense. An attack on one of us is an attack on us all,” the vice president stated as he addressed the press.

On Monday, Pence met with the presidents of Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania, all three former Soviet states that border Russia. The small nations were occupied by Soviet troops for almost 50 years until regaining independence in 1991 after the fall of the Soviet Union.

Leaders of the three Baltic countries have grown more concerned as Russia continues to build a military presence in the area. Mutual defense has become a huge concern as Vladimir Putin’s moves have become more aggressive and unpredictable.

In a strategic meeting in Estonia’s capital city of Tallinn, Pence assured NATO members that the United States, the last remaining world superpower, is committed to honoring the Article 5 pledge without question.

The world leaders met in the baroque 18th-century Kadriorg Palace, which was constructed by Russian Emperor Peter the Great. Pence spoke specifically to Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite, Estonian President Kersti Kaljulaid and Latvian President Raimonds Vejonis.

Military defense wasn’t the only subject discussed.

Specifying that President Trump “knows security is the foundation of our prosperity,” Pence spoke with leaders about increasing two-way trade and investments between the United States and Baltic countries.

Currently, trade between the U.S. and the region amounts to $3.5 billion, but commercial ties are expected to increase i nthe near future.

In June, Washington negotiated a deal to sell liquefied natural gas directly to the Baltic region. A state-owned gas trading company in Lithuania will receive its first shipment of LNG from the U.S. as early as August.

The Russian government is well known for exerting leverage with its vast energy exports. This trade deal is expected not only to generate revenue but also to undercut Putin’s influence.

Pence said he hopes the move will help alleviate Baltic reliance on Russian gas. He also described the trade deal as “the first of many.”

The vice president didn’t just meet with Baltic NATO officials. Later on Monday, Pence spoke with NATO troops from France, Britain and the United States.

In an effort to counter Russia’s military presence in the Baltic Sea region, the NATO alliance has deployed nearly 4,000 troops to Poland and the three Baltic states.