Pence: We will hold Russia accountable

US Vice President Mike Pence promises to support NATO, hold Russia 'accountable,' says NATO members should increase defense budgets.

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Mike Pence
Mike Pence
Reuters

US Vice President Mike Pence at the Munich Security Conference on Saturday said the United States will "hold Russia accountable" and reaffirmed the US' commitment to support trans-Atlantic institutions such as NATO.

In his speech, Pence said the US would demand Russia honor a peace deal aimed at ending violence in the eastern Ukraine. The deal was signed in Minsk, Belarus in 2015.

"Know this: 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," Pence said. "This is President Trump's promise: we will stand with Europe today and every day, because we are bound together by the same noble ideals – freedom, democracy, justice and the rule of law.

"We have been faithful for generations — and as you keep faith with us, under President Trump we will always keep faith with you.

"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.

"The United States is and will always be your greatest ally. Be assured that President Trump and our people are truly devoted to our transatlantic union."

Pence added, "Let me be clear on this point: 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."

However, he stressed NATO's members should increase their defense budgets.

Pence also met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, who stressed the need to maintain international alliances and told the audience that NATO is "in the American interest."

"Will we be able to continue working well together, or will we all fall back into our individual roles?" Merkel asked. "I hope we will find a common position on this, let’s make the world better together and then things will get better for all of us."

NATO, or the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, is a 28-nation military alliance of European and North American democracies created after World War II to strengthen international cooperation as a counter-balance to the rise of the Soviet Union. In 2014, the promised to spend 2% of their gross domestic spending on defense within a decade. However, only Greece, Britain, Poland, Estonia, and the US have done so.