In Russia, State Department staff said Monday they were barred from retrieving their personal items from a property used by U.S. diplomats on the outskirts of Moscow, as Russia’s government struck back against a move by the U.S. Congress to ratchet up sanctions on Russia. President Vladimir Putin has ordered 755 U.S. staff to withdraw from the diplomatic missions in Moscow and elsewhere. Meanwhile, Russia said it would send up to 100,000 troops to the eastern edge of NATO territory by the end of summer, and stepped up ongoing military maneuvers. The tensions came as Vice President Mike Pence continued a tour of former Soviet states, threatening retaliation against any Russian aggression. This is Pence speaking Monday at the headquarters of Estonia’s defense forces.
Vice President Mike Pence: “President Trump has called on Russia to cease its destabilizing activities in Ukraine and elsewhere and to cease its support for hostile regimes like North Korea and Iran. And under President Trump, the United States will continue to hold Russia accountable for its actions. And we call on our European allies and friends to do the same.”
Pence later traveled to the former Soviet republic of Georgia, where he promised U.S. support for Georgia’s territorial integrity. In 2008, Russian forces invaded the Georgian regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.