- Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said United States will come to the aid of Lithuania and the other Baltic nations of Estonia and Latvia if they are attacked by Russia.
- Blinken's promise came amid fears Russia will retaliate against the Baltic countries for support given Ukraine, which is battling a Russian invasion.
- Blinken said there has been no decision yet on whether to put U.S. troops permanently in the Baltics, which are members of NATO.
Secretary of State Anthony Blinken on Monday promised fellow NATO member Lithuania the U.S. will act to repel any Russian military aggression against that country and other Baltic nations.
"The United States commitment to [NATO's] Article 5 – an attack on one is an attack on all," Blinken said, "that commitment is sacrosanct."
Blinken was speaking at a news conference in Lithuania's capital city of Vilnius with that country's foreign minister, Gabrielius Landsbergis. He made similar remarks in Latvia, another Baltic country that belongs to NATO.
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"We will defend every inch of NATO territory if it comes under attack," Blinken said, reiterating comments made by President Joe Biden in his State of the Union address last week. "No one should doubt our readiness; no one should doubt our resolve."
But Blinken said in Latvia that there has been no decision yet on whether to put U.S. troops permanently in the Baltics.
Lithuania, Latvia and the third Baltic nation, Estonia, with fellow NATO members and other Western countries have provided aid to Ukraine and harshly sanctioned Russia since it invaded the neighboring country.
That in turn has raised concerns that Russia will target the Baltic states, which had been part of the Soviet Union, along with Russia, before its breakup three decades ago.
Blinken is due to visit Estonia on Tuesday.
Lithuanian President Gitanas Nauseda told Blinken at a press event that the "worsening security situation in the Baltic region is of great concern to ... all of us and around the globe."
Nauseda said that "Russia's reckless aggression against Ukraine once again proves that it is a long-term threat to the European security, the security of the entire alliance, no matter how and when the war in Ukraine ends."
The Lithuanian leader said the invasion is "a very good opportunity to rethink" how NATO responds to and prepares for threats.
Foreign Minister Landsbergis said, "The United States, Lithuania, and other partners of the alliance are doing a lot, but we cannot stop."
"We cannot afford for Ukrainian cities to become another Srebrenica, Grozny, or Aleppo," he said, referring respectively to the site of the massacre of more than 8,000 Muslims in 1995 in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Chechen city destroyed by Russian forces in late 1999 and early 2000, and a city devastated during the Syrian civil war.