Pence slams Russian Federation as sanctions row escalates

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At a news conference, Pence said he had passed on a "simple message" from President Donald Trump to the three countries: "We are with you".

The US vice president also praised Estonia for meeting the target of spending 2 percent of its gross domestic product for NATO's military expense and noted the striving of Latvia and Lithuania to meet this goal by 2018.

Putin responds: Responding to sanctions, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Russia would decide on how to retaliate once it had seen the final text of the bill.

Amid a fresh wave of sanctions and renewed tension between the United States and Russia, Vice President Mike Pence reassured NATO's Baltic member states that the US stands firmly behind its mutual-defense commitment in the face of stepped-up aggression from Moscow.

Vice President Mike Pence visits three countries in Russia's neighborhood beginning Monday to signal support for them and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation while drawing a line against aggression.

On Monday, he heads to Georgia - a non-Nato member that is also anxious about Russian Federation - and then to Montenegro, which became Nato's 29th member on June 5.

From Georgia Mr Pence will fly to Montenegro, which became Nato's 29th member in June, eight months after an alleged coup attempt that prosecutors claim was masterminded by Russian agents.

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The vice president's statement came the same day US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley called on China to clear up its mind on imposing greater sanctions against North Korea. Washington in the past has argued the missiles are meant to deter missile attacks from Iran and other unpredictable regimes, while Russian Federation sees them as an unacceptable escalation of US power near its borders. "President Trump has made it clear: America is open to a better relationship".

"The United States stands with the nations and people of the Baltic states - and we always will".

Pence said Moscow's demand to cut USA diplomatic staff in the country will not deter Washington from its commitment to its own security and that of allies.

In Georgia, Pence is expected to highlight USA support for its sovereignty and territorial integrity, the officials said.

The vice president also talked about the occupation of the Baltic countries in his speech.

You're members of the Global Campaign to Defeat ISIS, and at this moment I say with gratitude, all three of your nations are participating in NATO's Resolute Support mission in Afghanistan.

Pence told reporters during a visit to Estonia that "we hope for better days, and better relations with Russian Federation".