U.S. President Donald Trump has expressed support for Ukraine's territorial integrity in a letter to the president of Lithuania, which has often backed Ukraine in its disputes with Russia.
Trump made the remarks in a letter to President Dalia Grybauskaite that was dated February 8 and posted on the website of the U.S. Embassy in Lithuania.
He praised Lithuania's "support for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine, as well as your efforts to increase energy diversification [and] advance our shared goal to enhance European and regional security."
Lithuania and fellow Baltic states Latvia and Estonia have felt vulnerable since Moscow's annexation of Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula and its backing of separatists in fighting in eastern Ukraine that has killed more than 9,750 people since April 2014.
Trump's praise of Russian President Vladimir Putin and his expressed desire for warmer relations with Moscow have added to the Baltic states' concerns.
On February 9, Grybauskaite said the Baltic states will seek additional security measures from the United States and NATO ahead of a large annual Russian military exercise, called Zapad (West), that is due to be held in September.
In a move ordered by the Obama administration in 2014 to show support for U.S. allies, about 3,500 U.S. soldiers have been sent to eastern NATO members as part of a NATO deployment.
In his letter, Trump also praised Lithuania's efforts increase defense spending "to achieve NATO's agreed benchmark."
Trump has spoken often of the need for NATO members to contribute more financially to the alliance, raising concerns by some countries about the level of his commitment to common security needs.