Vice President Mike Pence attended the Munich Security Conference in Germany where he told Europe that America will stand behind its NATO allies. Pence also met with Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko to assure him that America remains committed to Ukraine and that Russia upholds the Minsk Agreement.
President Donald Trump rattled some cages on the campaign trail when he stated his beliefs that NATO was obsolete, leading many to believe America will abandon the organization. Pence said that will not happen:
“Today, on behalf of President Trump, I bring you this assurance: The United States of America strongly supports NATO and will be unwavering in its commitment to our trans-Atlantic alliance,” Pence said.
But Pence reminded the other NATO nations that they must pull their own weight:
The NATO treaty demands not only collective defense but a vow to “contribute our fair share to our common defense,” Mr. Pence, making his first overseas trip as vice president, said at an annual security conference here.
“That pledge has gone unfulfilled for too many for too long and erodes the very foundation of our alliance,” he said. He echoed an early theme of Mr. Trump, who has said he believes that the United States’ allies have taken advantage of American largess and not paid their fair share.
“Europe’s defense requires your commitment as much as ours,” Mr. Pence said.
In 2014, NATO agreed that the nations should raise their defense spending to 2% of GDP. Three years later, only five countries have met that standard. America leads the way with 2.61 followed by Greece, U.K., Estonia, and Poland.
Overall, the U.S has spent $664 billion while the UK has contributed $60 billion, France at $44 billion, and Germany at $41 billion.
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis reiterated that same sentiment when he met with NATO a few days ago in Brussels.
But Ukraine remained a concern on the campaign trail due to the media stirring up stories that Russian President Vladimir Putin preferred Trump. It didn’t help that Trump has praised Putin.
In meeting with President Poroshenko today, I underscored U.S. support for Ukraine and full implementation of Minsk. pic.twitter.com/2e32Ov0t6y
— Vice President Mike Pence Archived (@VP45) February 18, 2017
Russia invaded Ukraine in March 2014 after parliament ousted Russian-backed President Viktor Yanukovych. The Kremlin then annexed Crimea. Ukraine has continued the war with Russia in the east ever since.
Russia, Ukraine, France, and Germany have met numerous times in Minsk, Belarus in an attempt to break up the violence. But each time the Russian soldiers and pro-Russian separatists broke it and the war continues.
Pence made sure to ease any fears with Poroshenko:
Pence said the U.S. would demand that Russia honor a 2015 peace deal agreed upon in Minsk, Belarus, to end violence in eastern Ukraine between government forces and Russia-backed separatists.
“Know this: The United States will continue to hold Russia accountable, even as we search for new common ground which as you know President Trump believes can be found,” Pence said.
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