Baltic leaders discuss Ukraine, NATO presence with US vice president

Baltic leaders met with U.S. vice president Kamala Harris at the Munich Security Forum on February 18, 2022.
Baltic leaders met with U.S. vice president Kamala Harris at the Munich Security Forum on February 18, 2022. Source: Stenbock House

The U.S. remains committed to NATO's Article 5 and collective defense the vice president told leaders from Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania on Friday. The readiness for "a swift Transatlantic response" if Russia further invades Ukraine was also discussed.

Meeting on the sidelines of the annual Munich Security Conference, the discussion with President Egils Levits of Latvia, President Gitanas Nauseda of Lithuania and Prime Minister Kaja Kallas was part of the U.S.'s "extensive engagement with Allies on a unified approach to Russia's aggressive actions," a statement from the White House said after the meeting.

The vice president emphasized the U.S.A remains committed to NATO and the security of the region.

Harris said: "The United States remains committed to Article 5 and our position has always been and will continue to be, that Article 5 is ironclad. And the spirit behind it, that an attack on one is an attack on all, remains our perspective."

Article 5 is the alliance's collective defense clause.

Kallas said: "Being a small country, it is very important and we are very grateful that a big Allie, like you, constantly consults with us, you know, gives us information, keeps us posted. This means a great deal to us, that we are equal Allies."

The leaders discussed their response should tensions escalate, including through adjustments to U.S. and NATO forces, financial sanctions and export controls.

Strengthening NATO's deterrence and collective defense were also raised. The leaders also emphasized their support for Ukraine. 

The Estonian prime minister wrote on social media after the meeting: "It is clear that Putin is afraid of democracy."

In recent months, Moscow has massed thousands of troops on the borders Ukraine shares with Russia and Belarus. Experts and intelligence reports suggest an attack is likely in the coming weeks.

Russia has demanded NATO remove its troops from the Baltics and other eastern flank countries, putting the NATO border back to how it was in 1997.


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Editor: Helen Wright

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