VILNIUS – US President Joe Biden has voiced support to the Baltic states in the face of Russia's threat on the 100th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the three Baltic countries and the United States.
In a statement issued by the White House on Thursday, Biden underlined that over the past 100 years of "unbroken diplomatic relations", the United States has always supported the Baltic states' independence, did not recognize the Soviet occupations of the Baltic states back in 1940, and issued the Welles Declaration to support the three countries' government and underline their territorial integrity and independence.
"It affirmed the "universally known" policy of the United States – that we believe in sovereignty, self-determination and territorial integrity, and that we oppose predatory actions carried out by threats or force," the US president stated.
"With sovereignty and territorial integrity in Europe once more under assault, we are united with our Allies and partners to defend freedom, democracy, and security. The United States stands shoulder-to-shoulder with Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania to counter Russia’s brutal and unprovoked war on Ukraine and to hold Russia accountable," Biden said.
In his words, the Baltic states known better "what is at stake" than anyone else, and the United States will "continue to strengthen the security of Europe and defend every inch of NATO territory".
"The United States will continue working closely with Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania on the full range of global challenges to ensure the next century brings greater peace, security, and freedom for all," the American president underlined.
Lithuania, which declared the restoration of its statehood in 1918, was de jure recognized by the United States on July 28, 1922.
In 1940, after Russia occupied Lithuania, US Secretary of State Benjamin Sumner Welles declared that the US did not recognize the Soviet annexation of the three Baltic states and that the diplomatic and consular offices of these countries could continue to operate.
In response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine in late February, NATO confirmed its intention at the Madrid Summit in late June to upgrade the multinational battalions deployed in the Alliance's eastern flank countries since 2017 to the brigade level, if necessary.
US land troops have been deployed in the Baltic states and Eastern Europe intermittently on a rotational basis since the spring of 2014 in response to new threats following Russia's occupation of Ukraine's Crimea and the outbreak of conflict with Moscow-backed separatists eastern Ukraine.
Following Russia's invasion of Ukraine on February 24, the US reinforced its battalion in Lithuania by sending several hundred additional troops and is also considering further increasing its military support.