US will defend NATO Baltic states against Russia, Blinken says

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken delivers remarks to US Embassy staff at the Vilnius Rotuse in Vilnius, Lithuania March 7, 2022.

Olivier Douliery | Reuters

Secretary of State Anthony Blinken on Monday promised fellow NATO member Lithuania the US will act to repel any Russian military aggression against that country and other Baltic nations.

“The United States is committed to [NATO’s] Article 5 – an attack on one is an attack on all, “Blinken said,” that commitment is sacrosanct. “

Blinken was speaking at a press conference in Lithuania’s capital city Vilnius with that country’s foreign minister, Gabrielius Landsbergis. He made similar remarks in Latvia, another Baltic country that belongs to NATO.

“We will defend every inch of NATO territory if it comes under attack,” Blinken said, reiterating comments made by President Joe Biden in his State of the Union address last week. “No one should doubt our readiness; no one should doubt our resolve.”

But Blinken said in Latvia that there has been no decision yet on whether to put US troops permanently in the Baltics.

Lithuania, Latvia and the third Baltic nation, Estonia, with fellow NATO members and other Western countries have provided aid to Ukraine and harshly sanctioned Russia since it invaded the neighboring country.

That in turn has raised concerns that Russia will target the Baltic states, which had been part of the Soviet Union, along with Russia, before its break-up three decades ago.

Blinken is due to visit Estonia on Tuesday.

Landsbergis said “the United States, Lithuania, and other partners of the alliance are doing a lot, but we can not stop.”

“We can not afford for Ukrainian cities to become another Srebrenica, Grozny, or Aleppo,” he said, referring respectively to the site of the massacre of more than 8,000 Muslims in 1995 in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Chechen city destroyed by Russian forces in late 1999 and early 2000, and a city devastated during the Syrian civil war.

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