Mike Pence’s tour to Europe has the only aim – to reassure NATO members over Russia. In recent months, the Baltic states have been reportedly frightened by Russia’s frequent military drills near the region.
For Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania – tiny Baltic countries – the fact of the rejoining of Crimea to Russia after it broke free from Ukraine is very nervous, so Mike Pence’s visit to the Baltic region is very timely. NATO strengthens the Western defense alliance’s eastern flank in response to Russia’s frequent military drills.
Pence will also meet Estonian President Kersti Kaljulaid and Lithuanian and Latvian leaders, Dalia Grybauskaite and Rajmonds Vejonis, in Tallinn on Monday.
Many Estonians believe the only thing keeping Putin at bay is Article 5, the mutual defense guarantee of the NATO treaty, to which Estonia is a signatory. President Trump has questioned Article 5 in the past, though he has more recently affirmed his commitment to defending fellow NATO members.
Mike Pence and his European tour
While in Estonia, Pence will meet with Prime Minister Juri Ratas as well as with leaders of Latvia and Lithuania. Estonia and Montenegro are members of NATO, while Georgia has expressed hopes of joining the Western alliance.
On the last stop, Pence will welcome NATO’s newest member with his stop in Montenegro, which only joined the alliance in June. According to the schedule, Vice President Pence will attend the Adriatic Charter Summit in Podgorica on August 2.