Trump pledges to increase efforts to stop Russian push for ‘power grab’

( — President Donald Trump pledged to step up the U.S. government’s efforts to stop what he calls the growing movement of Russian troops and weapons close to Poland and the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

Trump’s remarks, delivered during a working lunch Friday with Polish and Baltic leaders in Washington, came just days after U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis returned from a visit to Poland and met with the leaders of Belarus, Ukraine and the former Soviet Republic of Georgia, who said U.S. power gave them confidence they could put in place measures to “curtail the aggression” by Moscow.

On Thursday, Mattis and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson held meetings with local officials in Warsaw and heard accounts of “Russian military incursions” in the region, including a “Russian military build-up,” that has “become a threat to both the region and NATO.”

Some critics have also charged that the U.S. is failing to persuade Moscow to cease what they call provocative military maneuvers near NATO allies.

Trump noted that relations between Moscow and Washington have been “tense for some time.”

“However, that is unlikely to last,” he said.

He said he would discuss the U.S.’s efforts to prevent “Russian military intervention and intimidation in Europe and elsewhere,” including options to strengthen the defenses of Poland, Latvia and Lithuania.

Trump expressed understanding for the Baltic leaders’ concerns, saying the United States would work closely with them “to provide the support they need and deserve in their long-term efforts.”

“Russia does not respect borders, so we have to be very vigilant,” he said.

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