Wed | Feb 21, 2018

Europeans wonder if Trump will act on Pence's reassurances

Published:Monday | February 20, 2017 | 12:00 AM


United States Vice-President Mike Pence was the latest in a trio of high-ranking Trump emissaries to tell European allies in person that the United States will steadfastly support NATO and demand that Russia honour its commitments to end fighting in Ukraine.

Some European leaders, however, remain sceptical of whether Pence and the US secretaries of state and defence actually speak for President Donald Trump. And they worry those declarations might easily be swept away at the whim of the mercurial American president.

"We are waiting for actions," said Polish President Andrzej Duda. "We only know what the media has reported and the statements that we've got. Now we are waiting for actions of the new government of Donald Trump."


European countries along Russia's border have been rattled by the prospect of deeper US-Russia ties after Trump bucked the opinions of German Chancellor Angela Merkel and other world leaders by suggesting that sanctions imposed on Russia over its intervention in Ukraine could be eased in exchange for a nuclear arms deal.

Trump also raised eyebrows when he appeared to draw parallels between Russia and the US when Bill O'Reilly of Fox News referred to Russian President Vladimir Putin as "a killer". Trump replied: "We've got a lot of killers. What do you think? Our country's so innocent?"

In the days before his inauguration, Trump referred to NATO as "obsolete" in an interview, but said the 28-nation alliance remained important to him. He has since tempered his language and stressed the importance of NATO during telephone conversations with multiple foreign leaders.

Pence, on his first overseas trip as vice- president, tried to allay some of those fears in Munich on Saturday, reaffirming the US.commitment to NATO and promising that the US would "hold Russia accountable".