By Justin Sink - 03/19/14 08:55 AM EDT
Vice President Biden condemned Russia for moving along a “dark path” amid reports of violence as Russian forces took over a Ukrainian military base in the Crimean Peninsula.
The vice president expressed concern over reports of armed attacks against Ukrainian military personnel and blasted Russian President Vladimir Putin’s signing of an annexation treaty with Crimean leaders as illegal.
Biden vowed that there would be “a price to pay for this naked aggression.”
“Russia cannot escape that the world is changing and rejecting outright this behavior,” Biden said.
Ukraine said Tuesday that a military officer was killed after Russian forces stormed a Ukrainian outpost near the city of Simferopol. Interim Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk denounced the attack as a “war crime,” according to Agence France-Presse.
Biden, who is visiting Vilnius, Lithuania to reassure European allies, vowed the U.S. would respond to any movement against NATO allies.
“Have no doubt: The United States will honor its commitment. We always do,” Biden said, according to The Associated Press.
Lithuania and Latvia, which joined the alliance nearly a decade ago, have expressed concern over Russia’s aggression in the region.
Lithuanian President Dalia Grysbauskaite said Russia’s actions were a “threat not only to Ukraine but also the entire international community.”
“We reject the use of brutal force to redraw the map of Europe and to undermine the post-war political order,” Grysbauskaite said.
Latvian President Andris Berzins called the situation in Ukraine “alarming” and called for political and economic assistance to the interim government in Kiev.
The stop in Vilnius followed meetings between Biden and Polish leaders in Warsaw on Tuesday. There, the vice president announced the U.S. was considering rotating American forces into the Baltic region as a show of force to reassure NATO allies. The U.S. has also committed to sending air troops and F-16 fighters to Poland for joint training exercises.