12:36 Nov. 10, 2016
Trump said he would not automatically come to defend Baltic states if they were invaded by Russia
The Baltic States warily congratulated Donald Trump on Wednesday on his U.S. election win, but hoped he would not follow through on campaign pledges to look at the level of their defence spending before deciding whether to defend them against Russia.
Worries in the three NATO members that Russia might act to grab them back by force following its annexation of Crimea in 2014, were stoked by Trump's remarks in July to the New York Times that he would consider their contributions to the alliance first before coming to their defence.
Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia also depend on NATO to police their airspace, and expect the alliance to deploy ground troops next year to deter Russia, while the first two are ramping up defence spending sharply.
Officials said they hoped Trump's rhetoric about Baltic defence and Russia was only a part of the election campaign.
"I really hope that the rhetoric on defence and Russia was mostly a part of the election campaign," Saulius Skvernelis, Lithuania's incoming prime minister, told Reuters.
His Latvian counterpart, Maris Kucinskis told the Latvian Independent Television he expected the United States to remain committed to the region.
"We respect the choice of American people and our policy is not going to change because of that," he added.