Mike Pence: Russian aggression poses 'serious threat' to Europe

Mike Pence: Russian aggression poses 'serious threat' to Europe
Copyright euronews
Copyright euronews
By Stefan Grobe
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Former Vice President of the US, Mike Pence, joins Euronews Correspondent Stefan Grobe on the Global Conversation to discuss military support for Ukraine, transatlantic relations and collective challenges.

On Saturday, the US House of Representatives approved a long-stalled €89 billion foreign aid package with €57 billion earmarked for Ukraine.

The outcome has restored hopes of a late-summer counteroffensive following a lag in weapons deliveries to the war-ravaged country.

The aid package is expected to get the green light from the US Senate and President Joe Biden in the coming days but experts argue it might be weeks before fresh stocks of munitions arrive on the frontline.

Saturday's result (311 votes for and 112 against) signals renewed bipartisan support for Ukraine despite months of resistance from the hard-right MAGA (Make America Great Again) wing.

Ahead of the landmark vote, Former US Vice President Mike Pence, who served under President Donald Trump from 2017 to 2021, sat down with Euronews Correspondent Stefan Grobe at the German Marshall Fund's Brussels Forum.

To watch this episode of the Global Conversation, click on the video in the media player above or read the full interview below.

Stefan Grobe, Euronews: Mr Vice President, this is not your first visit to Brussels. I hope you got a warmer reception than the first one...

Mike Pence, Former Vice President of the United States: I did, but the first one was a little cold. It was right after we were elected. There was, I understand, a lot of concern in Europe that we were going to embrace a new form of isolationism, economic isolationism, in particular. 

And, what I made clear at that very first conference in Munich in 2017, was that America First did not mean America alone. And I'm proud of the way (through some stops and starts), we strengthened our NATO alliance. We strengthened our relationship with our European allies. And I think we set the table, for the United States, Europe and the United Kingdom to provide the kind of support that we've all been providing, to the courageous fighters in Ukraine.

What about long-term support for Ukraine?

Stefan Grobe, Euronews: Let me start with the topic that has taken centre stage in Brussels, the global threats that affect the security of both the European Union and the United States. Now, congressional support packages for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan have been hanging in the balance for quite some time. What message does that send to America's allies?

Mike Pence, Former Vice President of the United States: Well, I think the message is that a majority of Republicans and Democrats and a majority of the American people, embrace our role as leader of the free world. I think you'll see the Congress send to President Biden's desk, the historic package of support for Ukraine, for Israel, for Taiwan, as well as take strong steps, to stand up to China by forcing the sale of TikTok in the United States. So, we have very close majorities in Congress. I served there for 12 years. I understand the difficulty of moving legislation.

Stefan Grobe, Euronews: On that note, how confident are you that there will be long-term US support for Ukraine?

Mike Pence, Former Vice President of the United States: Well, I must tell you that we're entering a presidential year, but the package will provide President Zelenskyy and his soldiers with the lethal support that they need to continue to take the fight to the Russians. And then at the end of the day, I have great confidence in the American people. 

Everywhere I went as vice president, and then over the last year, as a candidate for president, I had one person after another stopping me and thanking me for the strong stand that we'd made to stand with our military, to stand with our allies, to stand up to authoritarian aggression, whether that be in Ukraine or whether it be the terrorist attack by Hamas, against Israel or even China's, provocations in the Asia Pacific. 

I and the majority of the American people know and understand our unique role in the history of the free world. And I'm confident the American people will demand, that whoever occupies the Oval Office in the next administration will live out that American ideal.

Stefan Grobe, Euronews: I think that, nevertheless, people have noticed a little shift. Standing up to Russia used to be a mainstay of Republican Party principles. You know, the party of Ronald Reagan, George Bush, John McCain and others. What happened? And why isn't that the case anymore?

There is a rising tide of Republican isolationism
Mike Pence
Former Vice President of the United States

Mike Pence, Former Vice President of the United States: Stefan, I think there is a rising tide of Republican isolationism, in my party. I've spoken out against it boldly and will continue to. We learned hard lessons in the 1930s, didn't we? You in Europe, paid a very dear price. But, I would submit to you that those who believe that we have to choose between solving our domestic problems, our crisis at our southern border, inflation, crime in our cities, and being the leader of the free world, have a fairly small view of the greatest nation on earth. 

But I do believe the majority of the American people in both political parties, support our allies and American leadership, in Eastern Europe, the Middle East and the Asia-Pacific region.

Former US Vice President Mike Pence and Euronews Correspondent Stefan Grobe
Former US Vice President Mike Pence and Euronews Correspondent Stefan GrobeEuronews

Stefan Grobe, Euronews: What would you say, looking at transatlantic relations, going forward, what is the biggest challenge that we both face on both sides of the pond?

Mike Pence, Former Vice President of the United States: I think in the short term, Russian aggression represents a very serious threat to the peace and stability of Europe. I do not doubt in my mind if the West were to falter and Vladimir Putin were to overrun Ukraine, it would just be a matter of time before he crossed a border that under Article five, we as NATO allies would have to go and fight him. That's one of the arguments I've made in my country. 

I think it's important that we support the courageous Ukrainian soldiers who are fighting for their freedom so that our soldiers don't have to make that fight. So, in the short term, I think Russian aggression represents a very real threat. In the long term, there's no question, that China represents the greatest strategic and economic threat, not just to the United States, but, to the West. And I think only in combination, with free nations around the world, will we meet that moment.

Stefan Grobe, Euronews: On Ukraine. Donald Trump has said repeatedly that he would end the war within 24 hours. Do you share that assessment?

Mike Pence, Former Vice President of the United States: I think the only way you could end the war in 24 hours is if you gave Vladimir Putin what he wants. And I served with the president for four years. And, I know he has a way of making statements that express an aspiration. But I remain hopeful that the American people, regardless of the outcome of the election, will continue to understand and demand that our leadership in the White House and our leadership in Congress, meet this moment and stand up to Vladimir Putin's aggression.

Stefan Grobe, Euronews: You have been a member of the House of Representatives in the United States. You have been governor of Indiana. You have been the Vice President of the United States. You've written your memoirs. I wonder what the world can expect from Mike Pence, looking ahead.

Mike Pence, Former Vice President of the United States: Well, Stefan, we like to say we don't know what the future holds, but we know who holds the future. What people can expect is that I'll continue to advocate the values and ideals that have characterised my public life for more than 40 years. 

I'm someone who joined the Republican Party during the Reagan years. I'm someone who believes in a strong national defence and that America is the leader of the free world. I believe in balanced budgets and a limited federal government. 

I believe in traditional values, the right to life. And so, the work that I'm committed to for the rest of my life is to hold up those ideals and values. And if opportunities come our way to make a greater service to America, I promise to keep you posted.

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