Today Vice President Mike Pence embarks on a four-day trip to visit partners in Estonia, Montenegro, and Georgia. In Tallinn today he will also meet leaders from Lithuania and Latvia.
Russia is expected to be the hot topic of all of the vice president’s meetings; Eastern European states are uneasy about Donald Trump’s seeming affection for Vladimir Putin. All three countries on Mr Pence’s tour have been victims of suspected Russian aggression. Additionally, US-Russia tensions have flared after the US Congress passed new sanctions targeting Russia by overwhelming margins, sowing uncertainty in the region.
Georgia particularly has long sought security assistance from Washington following a Russian military intervention in 2008. The Caucasus state also wishes to join NATO, although membership talks have stalled over a feared Russian backlash. Talks between Pence and President Giorgi Margvelashvili are expected to focus on security cooperation, and a planned joint military exercise between the two countries will begin the day before the vice president’s visit.
With just four days, Pence will face difficulty in reassuring America’s Eastern European partners and erasing the memory of his president’s pro-Russian stances.