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Biden vows ‘rock solid’ NATO ties as allies slam Trump


US Vice President Joe Biden promised unwavering commitment to NATO’s collective defence on Tuesday as he sought to reassure Baltic allies spooked by a resurgent Russia and White House hopeful Donald Trump.

"Let there be no doubt — America’s Article 5 commitment is rock solid and unwavering," Biden said, referring to a cornerstone of NATO that an attack on one member state is considered an attack on all.

Trump, a real estate mogul now the Republican presidential nominee, sparked ire last month among Baltic and eastern NATO members ruled by Moscow during the Soviet era when he questioned the alliance’s key Article 5 collective security guarantee.

"Don’t listen to that other fellow — he knows not of what he speaks. America will never fail to defend our allies.

We will respond," Biden said, after talks with the presidents of Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania.

"And we want you to know, we want Moscow to know, that we mean what we say."

Tensions between the 28-member NATO and Russia have reached their worst level since the Cold War following Moscow’s 2014 annexation of the Crimean peninsula from Ukraine.

Asked in July by the New York Times about the Russian activities that have alarmed Baltic NATO members, Trump said that if Russia attacked them, he would decide whether to come to their aid only after reviewing whether those nations "have fulfilled their obligations to us."

"If they fulfil their obligations to us, the answer is yes," he said.

Biden said today he doubted whether Trump "even understands" what NATO’s Article 5 commitment to collective defence means, while insisting it was America’s "sacred honour" to fulfil it.

A majority of NATO’s eastern European leaders have fired back at Trump, with Czech Prime Minister Bohuslav Sobotka going so far as to say that Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton is better than Trump on security for NATO allies.

"Considering the pre-election statements made by Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, from the point of view of guarantees for the allies, I see more security if Clinton is elected," Sobotka told the Tuesday edition of Czech financial daily Hospodarskie Noviny (HN).