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>> We truly believe the future of the Western Balkans is in the West.>> US Vice President Mike Pence visiting NATO's newest recruit, Montenegro.>>
> Full of praise for the way it stood up to Russia by joining the alliance just two months ago. And offering a wider message to the region, choose the west over Russia.
>> And we look forward to reaffirming the commitment of the United States to build the relationships that will strengthen the ties between the European community, the Western Balkans and the United States of America.>> It's the final leg of Pence's Europe tour, designed to reaffirm US commitments to the security of Eastern Europe in the face of an increasingly emboldened Russia.
The trip symbolizes a U-turn from campaign trail comments by US president Donald Trump calling NATO, obsolete, and arguing for better relations with Russia. On Tuesday, Pence saying Montenegro's courage in the face of Russian pressure has inspired the world. And on Wednesday, Trump signing legislation imposing new sanctions on Russia, punishment over interference in the Presidential election, and the annexation of Ukraine's Crimea.
Moscow deeply opposes Montenegro's place at the NATO table, as the country's deep water Adriatic ports can support naval operations in the Mediterranean. Last year Montenegro accused Russian spies of orchestrating an attempted coup to derail the accession. Moscow dismissed that as anti-Russian hysteria and also warned it could retaliate against, quote, Montenegro's hostile course.