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Pence Visits Eastern Europe to Support NATO as White House Considers Arming Ukraine

by Countable | 8.1.17

Vice President Mike Pence is wrapping up a trip aimed at reassuring several Eastern European allies that the U.S. will support them against Russian aggression. The trip puts the tensions between the former Cold War adversaries in the spotlight just days after Russia moved to expel U.S. diplomats in response to a sanctions bill targeting Russia passed by Congress last week, which the White House says will soon be signed into law by President Donald Trump.

Pence’s visit began in Estonia, a North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) ally adjacent to Russia, and in a speech to U.S. and Estonian troops he emphasized the importance of NATO as a deterrent to Russia:

"No threat looms larger in the Baltic states than the specter of aggression from your unpredictable neighbor to the east. At this very moment, Russia continues to seek to redraw international borders by force, undermine the democracies of sovereign nations, and divide the free nations of Europe against one another… A strong and united NATO is needed more today than at any point since the collapse of Communism a quarter-century ago.”

Following his visit to Estonia, Pence visited Georgia — which fought a five day war with Russia in 2008 over two breakaway regions known as Abkhazia and South Ossetia that are now occupied by thousands of Russian troops.

Georgia isn’t currently a NATO member, but it maintains close ties with the alliance it hopes to join in the future. To that end, it’s currently hosting a military training exercise involving more than 2,800 troops from the U.S. and six other European nations. Russia is planning a military exercise of its own this summer in Belarus (which borders NATO members Lithuania, Latvia, and Poland) that will involve up to 100,000 troops.

Pence will conclude his trip with a visit to NATO’s newest member, Montenegro, where he will attend a dinner with the country’s president before meeting with nations participating in the Adriatic Charter — a group of Balkan nations that have either joined or aspire to join NATO.

The vice president’s trip isn’t the only news coming out of the Trump administration involving the defense of Eastern Europe. The Depts. of Defense and State have offered the White House plans to provide lethal defensive aid to Ukraine, which has been fighting Russian-backed separatists in its eastern border region since 2014 when Russia annexed Crimea. Under the plan, the U.S. would provide Ukraine’s military with anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons. Russia has denounced the plan, which an official from the country’s foreign ministry said would "add fuel to the fire."

Tell your reps what the U.S. should do to support NATO allies near Russia and whether defensive weapons should be provided to Ukraine using the Take Action button.

— Eric Revell

(Photo Credit: Sgt. Justin Geiger - U.S. Army / Creative Commons)

Countable

Written by Countable

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(89)
  • Chris
    08/01/2017
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    War. The ultimate distraction. :(

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  • Donald
    08/01/2017
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    Rattling sabres never leads to peace...

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  • Marsha
    08/01/2017
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    Good lord will this administration ever do anything but "in your face " to the rest of the world? Do they even realize WWIII will leave no winner?

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  • Monica
    08/01/2017
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    Support NATO yes, arming the Ukraine..NO

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  • Poli.Sci
    08/01/2017
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    I understand the importance of protecting our allies but Ukraine should never be given military resources provided by the US government. The US armed forces are spread way too thin as is, and the most threatening positions currently is our domestic territories, armed forces, and ally's territory in South East Asia and our allies and military forces in the Middle East. Ukraine needs to focus on being an actual democracy, not an oligarchy with corrupt officials running paramilitary and private militias to thwart the national government established in Kiev. If arming Ukraine is what the US government wants to do, those resources will be used to further degrade the freedoms and rights of the Ukrainian citizens and do exactly what we denounced Russia for doing by arming the rebels. If Ukraine is fighting a civil war because of a presidential election and vote on entering the EU, then let it be the EU countries sending military resources to protect one of their own. Ukraine is not a member of NATO, therefore, we are not obligated or required to protect its territory from a wave of pro-Russian feelings. Let our resources go to proper areas that are threats to the US where our military personnel are stationed to protect our allies and enhance our thinly spread military.

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  • Barbara
    08/01/2017
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    My concern is that Pence's harsh words about Russia is a smokescreen to draw favor away from the investigation into its involvement in our election. Trump is appearing tough on Russia...so how could he have colluded with them? Representatives: make sure this investigation proceeds. As for giving weapons to the Ukraine, this would only exacerbate tensions when there is no overt move by Russia now. Watch the situation closely, but don't add fuel to the fire.

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  • Esther
    08/01/2017
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    WE DO NOT NEED WAR ON ANY FRONT!!!! The only ones who would benefit would be the arms manufacturers. We're tired of losing our military. We're tired of innocent civilians being killed. We're tired of nuclear threats. Whatever happened to diplomacy. Bullying on any level, at any age, on any front is UNACCEPTABLE.

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  • LibertyAmy
    08/01/2017
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    Because, that worked out so well the last time we armed another country? You are also asking us to pay back 20 trillion dollars the government spent, that our country didn't have. We can't afford this. I would like to keep my money and for my children to actually have income to live, not to pay back your debts.

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  • Lucie carter
    08/01/2017
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    Not a good plan! Our troops have enough with the continuing war in Iraq and Afghanistan! We've been at war since 2001. Our troops have been over used and ill used. Now you're considering the first step to another front! Hell No!

    Like (7)
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  • fdbetancor
    08/01/2017
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    Utter chaos in the Trump White House. This could not reasonably be construed as a case of "good cop, bad cop" - it is the goddamn Keystone Cops in all their pathetic bungling. This looks like Pence setting himself up as a hardline hawk, in hopes or preparation for a Trump impeachment. Has the "skinny repeal" debacle sent such a chill down their spine that they're contemplating drastic steps to save 2018? Or is this a so-transparent-that-it-is-subtle effort to sink the Russia collusion story by now poking the Bear in his backyard? Either way, it is madness. Reassuring the Baltic States would be a fine idea, except that no one will believe a word Pence says. Trump has effectively torpedoed US security guarantees for the next four years - the surest way possible to have someone go out and test them. As long as 45 is the Boss, #2 can go whistle Dixie. As for direct lethal aid to Ukraine, that's a terrible idea at this point. Russia will ALWAYS have more skin in this game than the US, so all the escalation risk is on the side of the Americans. We send in a shipment, they send in a battalion, and the Ukrainians are the poorer for the exchange. And assume for a moment that we succeeded in destabilizing the situation enough that Russia felt Eastern Ukraine and even Crimea were threatened; Putin and the Russian General Staff might feel that the correlation of forces at present favored a swift conventional strike against NATO. Would President Trump really risk nuclear war for Crimea and the Baltic States? You could ask that of any former US President, but when has it ever been so openly questioned by the very man holding the office? I feel the ground trembling beneath our feet...the long, slow slide to war begins with the rolling of just such small stones.

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  • Luann
    08/01/2017
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    Republicans what's up? Your platform said you wouldn't arm Ukraine. I see nothing wrong with arming a country fighting a take over by Russia.

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  • KansasTamale
    08/01/2017
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    What a disaster. Having these individuals in charge of the safety of our country is like entrusting our country to the Three Stooges. Moe, Larry & Curly would probably do a better job than Trump & Pence. To even think about NOT BEING IN NATO is the stupidest idea ever considered. NATO is an important part of the peace of this country. On the Arming of Ukrane - the Republicans ran A CAMPAIGN AGAINST ARMING Ukrane and now they are planning on doing the opposite??? Ridiculous. No to arming them. Just a waste of money and our troops.

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  • Frank
    08/01/2017
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    6 months ago Trump learned: NATO good ugh...we are so screwed. The world looks to us to save them from dictators, despots and destruction. Trump just learned about NATO this year! Russia perfected the manipulation of feckless leaders like Trump. Then SLAM they invade! It's going to happen again when Trump will be eating the "greatest piece of chocolate cake" at Mar-A-Largo with the family. Estonia and Latvia invaded! Poland next...it's not a secret. Putin said his goal is to reunite the former USSR countries with Russia AND he said the break off of Scandinavia in 1914 was illegal. Hitler told us what his plans were too. Not to worry. Trump will have a big meeting at his important dinner table then declare he will get to it on Monday because he is playing golf with his friends over the weekend. Not a single ounce of leadership from a guy enriching himself through golf weekends at his properties. So who is the leader of the free world? Angela Merkel I guess. Ask her what we should do!

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  • TracyEckels
    08/01/2017
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    This is some serious problem. I don't think that we are going to make it better by getting involved with Russia and another serious proxy war.

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  • Al
    08/01/2017
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    War is next. Trump and his minions simply want power to exercise their greed. Pence is so creepy he makes my skin crawl. That is one seriously creepy dude. No diplomacy just war. It's embarrassing to watch these creeps represent Americans on the world stage. God help America!

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  • Joyce
    08/01/2017
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    Trump needs to sign the sanction bill immediately! Passed overwhelmingly by House and Senate yet sits on his desk. So desperate to sign ANY legislation, but wont sign this? He is a Putin puppet! Do not allow him to get away not signing this. If he wont, Congress cannot recess, thereby giving him the veto with no override

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  • Ruth ann
    08/01/2017
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    Arming the Ukraine is like handing a loaded gun to a two year old. What can possibly go wrong?

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  • Deidre
    08/01/2017
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    Why does the rest of the planet dislike us??? Because we are arrogant, ignorant, and ARMED!!

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  • Johnna
    08/01/2017
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    Arming Ukraine is far too dangerous to risk. Also....if we have been vocal about Russia arming the rebels....how can we rationalize arming the Ukraine forces???

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  • Claude
    08/01/2017
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    Stop meddling, get home, find a real problem to solve.

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