Biden Assures Allies and Criticizes Trump’s Ignorance of NATO

Vice President Joe BidenFrom Karen De Young, Washington Post:  In Riga on Tuesday, [Vice President Joe] Biden reiterated U.S. and NATO determination to stand against Russian aggression in the Baltic region, stressing the administration’s rejection of Donald Trump’s suggestion that the alliance would not defend those members who do not “pay their bills….”

Biden, who held bilateral talks with Latvian President Raimonds Vējonis and Prime Minister Māris Kučinskis, followed by a working lunch with the leaders of all three Baltic nations, said the United States was committed to their defense, whatever “a presidential candidate” might say.

“I want to make it clear, absolutely clear to all the people of the Baltic states, we have pledged our sacred honor, the United States of America, our sacred honor to the NATO Treaty and Article 5,” the mutual defense provision in the alliance charter, Biden said.

“We mean what we say; we have never reneged on any commitment we have made,” he said. “The fact that you occasionally hear something from a presidential candidate . . . it’s nothing that should be taken seriously, because I don’t think he understands what Article 5 is.”

From Nick Gass, Politico:  “I’m here looking forward to discussing the details of decisions taken in Warsaw, also economic issues,” Biden said….

“And, but there is continued overwhelming bipartisan agreement in the United States of America, in both political parties to maintain our commitment to NATO, we reaffirmed that in Warsaw, and the concern that the US is somehow disengaged … is simply not true,” Biden said, referring to the recent NATO summit. “As a matter of fact our presence will be enhanced, there will be more NATO partners on the Russian border, there will be more than a single tripwire. We are absolutely thoroughly 100 percent committed to our NATO obligation including and especially to Article 5.”

From Jeff Mason and Gederts Gelzis, Reuters:  Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia, the three Baltic states which regained independence in the early 1990s a half century after being annexed by the Soviet Union, see themselves on the frontline of any potential conflict with Russia.

NATO leaders agreed last month to deploy military forces to the Baltic states and eastern Poland for the first time and increase air and sea patrols to reassure allies in the region worried about the threat from Moscow.

“It is important for us that we are ready, all parties, to confirm our strategic partnership … and we are sure that no matter what changes will be after the elections in (the) United States, their commitments … to NATO, to (the) Baltic region, will stay,” said Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite, speaking after Biden.

Image: Vice President Joe Biden (photo: White House)