US will continue to hold Russia accountable: Trump's VP
Iran Press TV
Sat Feb 18, 2017 3:24PM
The US will continue to hold Russia accountable for its actions, says Vice President Mike Pence, even though President Donald Trump is looking for better ties with Moscow.
In his first major foreign policy address, Pence told Washington's European allies in the German city of Munich on Saturday, "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."
Delivering a speech at the Munich Security Conference, Pence also accused Russia of "redraw[ing] international borders by force."
He said Washington would demand that Russia honor the 2015 Minsk agreement, which was reached back in February 2015, to end the Ukrainian conflict--erupted almost one year after people in the Crimean Peninsula voted for the territory to rejoin the Russian Federation in March 2014.
After one month, the Ukrainian government launched military operations to crush pro-Moscow protests in the eastern regions of Donetsk and Luhansk. The conflict has so far left more than 9,500 people dead and over 21,000 others injured, according to the United Nations. The Minsk deal reduced the violence in the restive region but failed to put an end to the conflict.
Relations between the West and Russia have particularly soured since the conflict began. The West has imposed a series of sanctions on Russia, accusing the country of intervening in Ukraine and the 2016 US presidential election. Russian President Vladimir Putin, however, denies the accusations and blames the West for the bloodshed in Ukraine.
U-turn on NATO, Europe
During the Munich gathering, the US vice president reassured member states of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) "on behalf of President Trump," that Washington "strongly supports NATO and will be unwavering in our commitment to our transatlantic alliance."
Trump has repeatedly called NATO "obsolete," and "useless," and called for its reforming during his presidential campaign. Now his vice president and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis–who was on a visit to Europe-- appeared to be concentrating more on pushing the allies to meet NATO defense spending commitments.
"The president of the United States expects our allies to keep their word, to fulfill this commitment, and for most, that means the time has come to do more," Pence added.
He also said the president would maintain deep ties to Europe, while also significantly increasing military spending in the US.
"The fates of the United States and Europe are intertwined. Your struggles are our struggles. Your success is our success. And ultimately, we walk into the future together."
Trump constantly praised Britain's vote to leave the European Union. His controversial policies on Europe, prompted Eurogroup President Jeroen Dijsselbloem to warn finance ministers of the Eurozone about his administration.
Earlier this month, Dijsselbloem said that there are risks to the group "from the outside relating to new government in the US."
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