Pence: U.S. Will ‘Hold Russia Accountable’

Vice President Mike Pence on Saturday reassured U.S. allies in Europe that the White House would “hold Russia accountable” for its aggression in eastern Ukraine. Pence’s comments at the Munich Security Conference in Germany come amid concerns over President Donald Trump’s seemingly soft stance on Russia, and just days after the national security adviser stepped down over his questionable ties to the Kremlin. Pence also sought to assuage concerns over Trump’s stance on NATO, saying the U.S. would “be unwavering in our commitment to this trans-Atlantic alliance” and that Trump “will stand with Europe.” Defense Secretary Jim Mattis offered similar reassurances to European allies earlier this week, prompting a telling reply from Germany’s defense minister, Ursula von der Leyen, who singled out the “secretary of defense’s strong commitment to NATO” rather than the president’s. Trump lambasted the alliance as “obsolete” shortly before taking office, and repeatedly suggested the U.S. could withdraw support of fellow members didn’t spend more.