Sen. Chris Coons recently returned from a bipartisan, bicameral congressional delegation to Sweden, Denmark, Latvia and Finland.

Ahead of the upcoming NATO summit and meeting between President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin, Coons reaffirmed the U.S.’ commitment to NATO and to the transatlantic alliance on trade and security.

Coons was joined by Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Arizona; Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker, R-Tennessee; Sen. Tom Udall, D-New Mexico; and Rep. Ed Royce, R-California, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

“At a time when the U.S. faces no shortage of international challenges, from North Korea and Iran to the growing influence of China and increased Russian aggression, we cannot afford to turn our backs on the transatlantic alliance that has advanced American interests and values for 70 years.

“In four countries — two NATO allies and two close security partners — we spoke with presidents, prime ministers, speakers of parliament and senior ministers. We toured a military base enhanced by NATO troops and heard from experts on Russian information warfare at centers of excellence designed to build resilience against attempts to undermine democracy,” said Coons.

“Across all these meetings, there was a clear and consistent theme. Our European allies take the threats posed by Russia very seriously, and they are concerned about the Trump administration’s commitment to NATO, the EU and the transatlantic alliance. Our delegation delivered a consistent message of support for these institutions that have advanced U.S. interests and values while helping to keep Europe free and at peace. It was an important opportunity to reassure our friends in Europe — who are fighting alongside American troops in Afghanistan and Iraq and standing firm against Russia’s efforts to undermine democracy or redraw the continent’s borders — of the U.S.’ commitment,” said Coons.

“As the U.S. and its allies prepare for a NATO summit and the summit between Presidents Trump and Putin in Helsinki, the U.S. should be clear that it supports its NATO allies and European partners. Ahead of his meeting with Putin, President Trump must be firm that the U.S. will not recognize Russia's illegal annexation of Crimea or allow Putin to undermine our democracy without consequence. The door to NATO must remain open for any nation seeking to join the alliance, and the United States commitment to NATO must remain strong,” said Coons.

“Russia only responds to strength and resolve, and if President Trump fails to address Crimea or Russia’s election meddling in his meeting, President Putin will see it as weakness and lack of resolve on the part of the U.S. President Trump should stand up for America’s interests and values and clearly define expectations that Russia must meet before we begin working together on important international issues,” said Coons.