Advocacy

Atlantic Council Launch of Tallinn Manual 2.0

Estonian names remain in the forefront of cyber security, as demonstrated by the launch of the Tallinn Manual 2.0 on the International Law Applicable to Cyber Operations.  The new volume was introduced this month at the Atlantic Council by members of the international team of experts that helped create it and other experts in the field.  It’s a relevant and comprehensive work at a time when cyber issues have become a major national security consideration.

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NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence Director Sven Sakkov

 

The original Tallinn Manual was published in 2013 as a non-binding analysis of how existing international law pertains to cyber warfare and cyber conflicts.  It concentrated on cyber operations that were targeted at the state level and were significant enough to allow nations to respond in self-defense.  Since cyber attacks that don’t meet the threshold for armed response have become more prevalent, the updated edition is expanded to focus on a wider range of international law and cyber operations.

 

The drafting of the manual and its predecessor was led by the NATO Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence (CCD COE) in Tallinn.  The team of expert authors in international law and information technology came from member nations of the CCD COE.  Both editions of the manual were published by Cambridge University Press.

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Liis Vihul, Tallinn Manual 2.0’s Managing Editor

The launch was attended by several notable Estonians and friends of Estonia.  The Centre’s director, Mr. Sven Sakkov, former Estonia Ministry of Defence Undersecretary for Defence Policy, and the director of the Tallinn 2.0 initiative, Professor Michael Schmidt of the U.S. Naval War College and the University of Exeter, were among the presenters.  The Centre’s legal advisor, Ms. Liis Vihul, served as the manual’s Managing Editor and also briefed on its creation.  Former President of Estonia, Toomas Hendrik Ilves, addressed the launch’s audience at the reception following the event.

The manual is intended as a reference source for nations’ legal advisors interested in the application of international law to cyber operations.  It provides agreed-to norms and principles informed by states and international organizations rather than actual legal code.  The authors were careful to capture all reasonable views on the issues to guide interpretation by states to help them make appropriate legal decisions on cases in their jurisdiction.

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Former President of Estonia, Toomas Hendrik Ilves, speaking at the reception

The CCD COE is a research, education and training facility accredited by NATO.  It currently has 17 sponsoring member nations that staff and finance the Centre, and as such, it is not part of NATO’s military command structure.  The manual represents the views of its authors and is not an official publication of NATO, its member nations or any other state or organization.  More information on the Centre and manual is available at https://ccdcoe.org.  The write-up and webcast of the launch event is posted at Atlantic Council’s website under Recent Events.

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Advocacy

A Guide to Grassroots Advocacy for Estonia

As members of the 115th Congress settle into their new offices, it’s time for us to start thinking about how to make sure issues that impact Estonian security get those members’ attention.  EANC and the Joint Baltic American National Committee (JBANC) are stepping up our work on the Hill in 2017, and our efforts would get a big boost from parallel grassroots support.  There are a few things outlined here that we can already start focusing on.  If you are inclined to contact your Senators and Representative, we appreciate your support and provide information below and on our website to facilitate whatever action you choose to take.

There are a number of ways you can contact your Members of Congress (MoC).  Letters, e-mails and phone calls are the most common.   Several articles have been published recently indicating that phone calls to Congressional offices actually have more impact than written correspondence.  This New York Times article does a good job of explaining why and also how to make your calls as effective as they can be.   Voicing your issues in person – by visiting your MoC’s local office or attending any town hall meetings they host – can also get their attention, especially if you can get a group together.  You can look up your representatives and find links to their websites with local office information at whoismyrepresentative.com.

If you’re unsure of what to say, EANC and JBANC have drafted sample letters for you to use as a guide.  You may use the text in letters, e-mails or as talking points.  While the NYT article states that personal stories stand out more than scripted statements, it’s up to you to do what works best for your situation and comfort level.

One top EANC goal is to increase membership of the Senate Baltic Freedom Caucus (SBFC) and the House Baltic Caucus (HBC).   While neither caucus meets formally, by joining, MoCs pledge to support Baltic security and NATO unity.  The purpose of the caucuses is to maintain strong relationships with Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania; promote democratic principles and human rights; assist in strengthening free market economies in Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania; and work to support legislation bolstering the defense of the Baltic countries.  Look for templates below and coming soon to  EANC’s website for your use in asking your MoCs to join.s-94-screenshot

The first piece of relevant legislation introduced this year is the Countering Russian Hostilities Act of 2017 (S.94).  It was submitted by Senator Benjamin Cardin (D-MD) and cosponsored by a bipartisan group of nine colleagues. It proposes comprehensive sanctions legislation on Russia for their cyber intrusions, aggression, and destabilizing activities in the U.S. and around the world.  Please see the official press release for more information and inspiration for calling your Senators.

EANC appreciates your local efforts to further causes that support Estonian security and European unity.  We are working in a dynamic environment and action on multiple levels could help us achieve our goals.  If you have any questions about what you can do, please contact our Washington, DC Director, Karin Shuey, at karinshueyeanc@gmail.com.

SAMPLE LETTER FOR SENATE BALTIC FREEDOM CAUCUS:

The Honorable (Full Name)

United States Senate
Washington, D.C. 20510                                      February xx, 2017

Dear Mr./Mrs./Ms. (Last Name):

As your constituent and a member of the Baltic-American community, I ask that you join the Senate Baltic Freedom Caucus (SBFC) in order to effectively represent the voices of Baltic-Americans in Congress. Please show your support for the advancement of U.S.-Baltic relations and security in Central and Eastern Europe by joining the SFBC and supporting appropriation of full funding ($3.4 billion) for the European Reassurance Initiative (ERI), so that the U.S. and NATO allies are prepared for contingencies that may occur during Russia’s widening aggression against its neighbors.

Baltic-American constituents in your district remain active in promoting democratic principles and human rights and strongly support U.S. policies that bolster the defense of the Baltic countries and strengthen Ukraine in its struggle against Russian aggression. Joining the SFBC will demonstrate your commitment in promoting opportunities to strengthen the economic and political relationships between the U.S. and our NATO allies in Eastern Europe. Members of the bipartisan SBFC, formed in 1997, share an interest in issues related to Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, and the active transatlantic ties between the United States and these three NATO partners. The goal of the Caucus is to maintain strong relationships with the Baltic countries, promote healthy democracies free from terrorism, and assist these countries in strengthening free market economies.

Since the restoration of their independence from the USSR a quarter century ago, the Baltic countries have been steadfast allies of the United States. Baltic Americans have a special appreciation of democracy and individual freedoms. Our commitment is strengthened because of memories of the brutal Soviet occupation of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania which lasted for half a century. The United States’ policy during that period was to condemn that occupation and never to recognize the Soviet annexation. The Baltic-American communities worked very hard to achieve NATO membership for Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. We are proud that they have been active participants in strengthening NATO, and that they remain strong adherents of the principles brought forth by this Alliance. Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania are active and capable contributors to our joint defense and defenders of Western standards and democracy. All three Baltic counties have already been contributing, or have committed to contribute, 2% of their GDP to defense spending.

For more information on the SBFC, please contact Erum Ibrahim Ali from Senator Durbin’s office at 202-224-2152. Thank you for your consideration of these requests.

Sincerely,

Name

Title

Your Address
Your Phone Number

SAMPLE LETTER FOR HOUSE BALTIC CAUCUS:

The Honorable (Full Name)

United States House of Representatives
Washington, D.C. 20515                                           February xx, 2017

Dear Mr./Mrs./Ms. (Last Name):

As your constituent and a member of the Baltic-American community, I ask that you join the House Baltic Caucus (HBC) in order to effectively represent the voices of Baltic-Americans in Congress. Please show your support for the advancement of U.S.-Baltic relations and security in Central and Eastern Europe by joining the HBC and supporting appropriation of full funding ($3.4 billion) for the European Reassurance Initiative (ERI), so that the U.S. and NATO allies are prepared for contingencies that may occur during Russia’s widening aggression against its neighbors.

Baltic-American constituents in your district remain active in promoting democratic principles and human rights and strongly support U.S. policies that bolster the defense of the Baltic countries and strengthen Ukraine in its struggle against Russian aggression. Joining the HBC will demonstrate your commitment in promoting opportunities to strengthen the economic and political relationships between the United States of America and our NATO allies in Eastern Europe.

Since the restoration of their independence from the USSR a quarter century ago, the Baltic countries have been steadfast allies of the United States. Baltic Americans have a special appreciation of democracy and individual freedoms. Our commitment is strengthened because of memories of the brutal Soviet occupation of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania which lasted for half a century. The United States’ policy during that period was to condemn that occupation and never to recognize the Soviet annexation. The Baltic-American communities worked very hard to achieve NATO membership for Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. We are proud that they have been active participants in strengthening NATO, and that they remain strong adherents of the principles brought forth by this Alliance. Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania are active and capable contributors to our joint defense and defenders of Western standards and democracy. All three Baltic counties have already been contributing, or have committed to contribute, 2% of their GDP to defense spending.

For more information and resources on the HBC, please visit the website: http://housebalticcaucus.webs.com or contact either Jim Goldenstein with Rep. Shimkus (5-5271) or Jeff Lowenstein with Rep. Schiff (5-4176). Thank you for your consideration of these requests.

Sincerely,

Name

Title

Your Address
Your Phone Number

 

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Advocacy

Sorting out the Transition

The last several weeks have certainly been interesting.  Articles have been published almost daily that seem to contradict what was written the day or week before.  It’s difficult to know what information has substance and what is based in speculation.  While I have avoided giving too much credence to many analysis and opinion pieces because I just don’t think the authors have an omniscient crystal ball, a few events have stood out to me as reliable and worthy of note.

First, the 115th Congress has already shown support for the Baltics and European security.  Senators McCain (R-AZ), Graham (R-SC) and Klobachar (D-MN) made a post-Christmas European visit that included Estonia, where they pledged bipartisan commitment to NATO and Baltic defense (see this New York Times article).

A new bipartisan bill was announced on January 10th to impose comprehensive sanctions on Russia for a range of hostile behavior.  The Countering Russian Hostilities Act of 2017 is cosponsored by a group of ten senators and calls out Russian cyber intrusions, continued aggression in Georgia, Ukraine and Syria, and efforts to influence democracy and fuel corruption throughout Europe and Eurasia.  A detailed press release is available on several cosponsors’ websites.

Toomas Hendrik Ilves and other European leaders have sent a clear message to the President-elect in the form of a letter outlining their concerns about the prospect of a grand bargain with Russia, the need to continue sanctions, and Putin’s record of untrustworthiness.  The letter highlights the signatories’ support for the U.S. as staunch allies with common goals and interests.  Please see the Washington Post article and full letter for more information.

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Inside the SFRC hearing room

The Senate confirmation hearing for Secretary of State nominee Rex Tillerson provided some insight regarding his views.  He made two important statements regarding the Baltics:   He affirmed his support for NATO deployments in the region as a show of force effective for deterring the Kremlin; and he called NATO’s Article 5 inviolable, pledging U.S. participation in a consensus-backed response to an attack on a member state.  He also recognized the Russian invasion of Crimea as a forceful takeover with no legal claim and agreed that respecting the sovereignty of nations and their borders is a fundamental part of maintaining international order and security.  He seemed clear in his differentiation between his interests and priorities as CEO of Exxon –  from which he stated he has divested himself and has left in the past – versus his responsibilities in serving U.S. national interests and security as the country’s top diplomat.  The Senate Foreign Relations Committee (SFRC) vote will be the next step in Tillerson’s confirmation process.

EANC has been engaged in the transition, mainly as part of the Central and East European Coalition, by drafting and submitting questions for SFRC members to ask Tillerson in order to clarify his positions on issues relevant to the region.  Those questions have been posted on the CEEC website.  EANC will support the bill to counter Russian hostilities, and any other legislation that addresses pertinent European security policy, and facilitate efforts by our members and constituents to do the same.  Our activities in Washington will continue to ensure that the administration and lawmakers are aware of issues important to our Estonian American constituents, keep our constituents informed on news from the White House and the Hill, and support efforts with our regional partners to remain engaged in the policy process.

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Advocacy

JBANC Meets with Baltic Ambassadors

The Estonian embassy hosted the Baltic ambassadors and Baltic American community representatives for the fourth quarterly JBANC-Baltic embassies meeting in December 2016.  The ambassadors updated us on their countries’ priorities and upcoming events and a productive exchange occurred on many relevant topics.

In addition to the three embassies and the Joint Baltic American National Committee (JBANC), the meeting included representatives from the Estonian American National Council (EANC), the American Latvian Association (ALA), the Lithuanian American Council (LAC) and the World Federation of Free Latvians (WFFL).

Two important December meetings were discussed.  The State Department-led Enhanced Partnership in Northern Europe (e-PINE) met recently with its eight Nordic and Baltic member nations and representatives from Department of Defense and Department of Homeland Security.  E-PINE is a forum for interagency cooperation on security, economic and social issues.  The meeting addressed important topics relevant to ensuring continued cooperation through the transition to the next administration and beyond.  NATO Parliamentary Assembly (NATO PA) meetings with Baltic government representatives and several Congressional leaders are also taking place in early December.  Participants noted that there is strong bipartisan commitment on the Hill to Baltic security and expect to be well-represented by the Republican Congress and administration.  There has been reassurance from leaders in Congress that there will be no major changes in U.S. policy on NATO or Russia after the inauguration.  The NATO PA meetings are expected to send strong messages of full Hill support back to the European member nations’ parliaments and populations.

Discussion of regional security issues was another major focus.  European Reassurance Initiative funding from the U.S. and NATO’s Enhanced Forward Presence (EFP) remain top priorities in all three nations.  Russia has continued its aggressive behavior with regular airspace violations and missile deployments in Kaliningrad and along its border with Finland.  While the nations are looking forward to multinational EFP deployments in the Spring of 2017, they will continue to pursue a permanent presence of U.S. troops embedded with the NATO forces.

There was support for increased Congressional staffer visits to the Baltics in the coming years in addition to the Congressional delegation schedule.  The embassies will focus on visits from the Armed Services, Foreign Relations, Foreign Affairs and Appropriations committees from both Houses of Congress to increase awareness in the new governments on both sides regarding issues of mutual interest.  The goal is for two staff delegation visits per year during the upcoming administration.

The Estonian ambassador offered information on recent changes in domestic government.  No big changes to security policy are foreseen.  While party dynamics have shifted, the Foreign Minister and Defense Minister appointments indicate a clear continuation of previous policies, with NATO and U.S. cooperation at the forefront.

The meeting’s overall tone was of unity and inclusion.  It’s important for the three nations to continue to work together with both parties on the Hill to draw more attention and attract a bigger audience than they could individually.  Their unified message for Moscow is that they can’t be considered the same as Ukraine and Georgia and that NATO will stand behind them.  These issues will be revisited at the next meeting, scheduled for February.

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Advocacy

EANC Hosts Successful Day of Policy and Cultural Discussions

On the eve of November’s elections, the Estonian American National Council held its annual meeting and gala in San Francisco on November 4-5 in conjunction with a full-day program of high-level speakers and panel discussions.  Special guests included Ambassadors James Melville, Eerik Marmei and Kurt Volker.  Although the event occurred pre-election, Ambassador Melville’s remarks and the afternoon panel on transatlantic security and U.S.-Estonian relations offered insights that carry over into the new administration’s transition period.

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Ambassador James Melville

As plenary speaker, Ambassador Melville highlighted the defining aspects of U.S.-Estonian relations for the next decade.   He sees Estonia as a capable partner and ally to the U.S., both bilaterally and multilaterally through NATO, the EU and other international organizations.  He called Estonia “…as solid a partner and ally as we have.  Estonia’s interests and values line up with ours exceedingly well.”  He went on to identify security as Estonia’s dominant issue for the foreseeable future, thanks to an aggressive and unpredictable Russia.  He affirmed the U.S. and NATO commitment to defend every ally’s security and territorial integrity, stating that with Estonia on the front line of the West’s struggle with Russia, “[a]ny wavering or destabilization would have ripple effects that would directly threaten U.S. interests and prosperity.”  Finally, he commended Estonia’s success in the digital economy through its capacity to adapt and innovate.  He ended his remarks by acknowledging that the Estonian-American community has a continuing role in supporting Estonia through its external and internal challenges.  Ambassador Melville’s full remarks are available at the U.S. Embassy Tallinn website under About Us > Ambassador > Ambassador Speeches.

The afternoon panel featured experts on various aspects of transatlantic relations, Russia’s recent behavior, and advocacy in Washington.  Estonian Ambassador to the U.S. Eerik Marmei opened the discussion with an overview of Estonia in NATO and U.S.-Estonian relations.  He observed that Obama’s policies regarding NATO’s eastern flank have been strong and specific.  Obama’s European Reassurance Initiative funding and bilateral defense cooperation programs have allowed Estonia to purchase 80 Javelin missile launchers, giving Estonia the second largest Javelin inventory in Europe.  Marmei also discussed Russia’s upcoming strategic-level ZAPAD 2017 exercise.  While available details for the exercise are sparse, he expects it may include new surprises for Russia’s western neighbors.  The Baltics have sometimes been considered as “NATO’s soft underbelly” and the best place to simulate a test of NATO’s resolve.  He would therefore advise our president-elect to send a message of solidarity with U.S. allies and to work within NATO to enhance policies for responding to hybrid interventions.

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Panelists from left:  Marcus Kolga, Ambassador Eerik Marmei, moderator Karin Shuey, Ambassador Kurt Volker, Karl Altau

Kurt Volker, former U.S. Permanent Representative to NATO and expert on transatlantic relations, shared his perspective on challenges for the next administration.  He opened by pointing out that the “Make America Great Again” campaign slogan includes showing U.S. strength as a force to be reckoned with.  Messages claiming that NATO should back off, Europe is weak and divided, and Russia is dangerous amount to psychological strategy and tactics intended to sow doubt.  A good response is to reaffirm NATO’s Article 5 with initiatives like Enhanced Forward Presence in the Baltics and Poland.  Demonstrating the will and capability to respond to Putin’s posturing will cause him to probe elsewhere.  However,  rather than responding reactively to Russia’s behavior, the U.S. needs to develop a coherent strategy.  Volker was disappointed by Trump’s campaign statements to “just get along” or “cut a deal with Putin” and Gingrich’s reference to Estonia as a suburb of St. Petersburg.  He believes that Trump’s policy won’t follow the rhetoric and that Russia doesn’t want a strategic partnership with us, even if they seem encouraged by Trump’s election.  Ending on a brighter note, Volker reminded us that the  Senate can exercise its power to check any reckless policy proposals from the White House.  In addition, we have a strong, educated, capable military and a deep foreign policy bench that respects our democratic values.

The next speaker was Marcus Kolga, expert on the media, communications and disinformation.  Mr. Kolga painted a sobering picture of the Kremlin’s extensive foreign and domestic disinformation campaigns.  Inside Russia, Putin has been dismantling independent media, forcing media owners into exile and merging their assets into the state-owned media monolith, effectively giving him complete control of all messages transmitted to the public.  In the West, Putin takes advantage of our freedom of speech and the media to broadcast anti-Western rhetoric.  Kolga cited the primary objective of these campaigns as the restoration of the Soviet empire and Russia’s return to superpower status.  To this end, the Kremlin has four main goals.  The first is to destabilize existing international alliances and institutions, like the EU and NATO, and present Russia’s illiberal and regressive Eurasian Union as an alternative.   Second is to polarize western societies and turn them against themselves – much like we’re seeing in the United States today.  Third, they seek to undermine western institutions and democracy and erode the confidence we have in our leaders.  Finally, they are sowing mass confusion and doubt in order to discredit opponents both domestic and foreign.  He offered several examples from recent history, as well as a very personal story of his own experience as a target of the Kremlin’s tactics.

Karl Altau of the Joint Baltic American National Committee rounded out the discussion with his recommendations for legislation we can support to send our message to the new President and Congress.  He highlighted several initiatives working through the approval process on defense funding, disinformation, Ukraine, and human rights protection.  Of particular note is the European Reassurance Initiative, which is part of the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act.  It allocates $3.4 billion in support for our European allies to upgrade their NATO interoperability, deterrence and self-defense capabilities.  Estonia has made good use of the portions of this funding it has received in previous years.  On Ukraine, JBANC has been advocating for support of the STAND for Ukraine Act , non-recognition of Russia’s annexation of Crimea, and aid for offensive weapons.  Bills to address propaganda and disinformation are in process in both chambers (S.2392 and H.R.5181), while the Global Magnitsky Act, increasing membership of the Senate Baltic Freedom and House Baltic Caucuses, and declaring an official Black Ribbon Day remain priorities, as well.

Ambassador Melville in his closing impressions echoed the speakers and reminded us that fundamental national interests don’t change.  He has been encouraged by the recent uptick in congressional interest in the Baltic region and cited recent and upcoming productive delegation visits.  He added that many problems have recognized and diagnosed, which is halfway to fixing them.  Now the U.S. needs to ensure that resources align with priorities to make those fixes.

Estonian-American constituents can help by voicing support on these issues to their Congressional representatives and by taking EANC’s survey at https://s.zoomerang.com/r/EANCpoliticalaction (also linked on the EANC homepage under EANC News) to indicate interest in getting involved.  EANC looks forward to providing information as the new administration’s policy evolves and to working with constituents and officials in Washington to keep Estonia on the radar screen.

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Advocacy

EANC Press Release

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ESTONIAN AMERICAN NATIONAL COUNCIL, INC./EESTI RAHVUSKOMITEE ÜHENDRIIKIDES

 

PRESS RELEASE – November 17, 2016

Estonian American National Council Congratulates President-Elect Trump

The Estonian American National Council offers congratulations to Donald J. Trump and Michael R. Pence on their election to the nation’s highest offices.  We look forward to working with them and their administration to ensure sound policy development on issues concerning U.S.-Estonian relations.

Together with our partners in the Joint Baltic American National Committee and the Central and East European Coalition, we will continue to foster strong ties in Congress in support of our collective regional interests.  We intend to invite newly elected members to join the Senate Baltic Freedom Caucus and the House Baltic Caucus, and to keep Congress informed on the issues that impact the Baltic States.  At the same time, we invite our Estonian-American constituency to also contact their Senators and Representatives to voice their concerns for Estonian security and policy for the region.

Strong U.S. leadership in NATO remains the foundation of European – and therefore Estonian – security and stability.  We are ardent supporters of the $3.4 billion European Reassurance Initiative allocation in the current National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) and call on Congress to pass it without delay.  This bilateral funding allows European allies to maximize their interoperability with NATO to ensure all members are well-prepared for deterrence and allied operations.  Though Estonia has exceeded the 2% of GDP benchmark for defense spending and is making smart decisions under their Article 3 responsibilities to develop their own forces, it relies on cooperation and support from larger members to bolster its ability to defend its borders and maintain the integrity of the alliance as a whole.  The multinational presence deploying there next year is a welcome implementation of the outcomes of the Wales and Warsaw summits.

While there is still much uncertainty regarding Mr. Trump’s national security policy and the team that will implement it, the EANC will make it a top priority to educate on and advocate for the importance of maintaining strong transatlantic relationships.  Estonia’s small size in no way diminishes its status as a sovereign nation.  Under Article 2, all NATO member nations signed on to “…contribute toward the further development of peaceful and friendly international relations by strengthening their free institutions, by bringing about a better understanding of the principles upon which these institutions are founded, and by promoting conditions of stability and well-being.”  We call on Mr. Trump to uphold and promote these values and to appoint a policy team that will do the same.

For more information, see http://www.estosite.org or contact EANC Washington Director Karin Shuey at karinshueyeanc@gmail.com.


Founded in 1952, the Estonian American National Council, Inc. is a nationally elected 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization representing the interests of Estonian Americans both in the United States and Estonia, and dedicated to preserving and sustaining their heritage.

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Advocacy

A Brief Overview of Russia’s Disinformation Campaign

Russian disinformation is a hot topic these days as more people, here in the U.S., in Europe, and presumably also in Russia, are becoming more aware and more discerning consumers of what is presented as news across the worldwide web and other media outlets.  The four articles outlined below provide snapshots of what has been observed in the Nordic countries, a Ukrainian-based view of the extent of propaganda infiltration in the EU, and a U.S. military assessment of the impact on strategy and policy decisions of deceptive information promulgated by Russia.  While there is no shortage of press on the topic, these articles stood out as relevant to the Baltic region and to the broader scope of the problem.

The first article from the New York Times (NYT), titled “A Powerful Russian Weapon:  The Spread of False Stories,” describes how the awareness of Russian disinformation has grown in Sweden and how their reaction to it has evolved.  There, and in Finland, the Kremlin’s main goal is to keep both countries out of NATO.  Much of the propaganda is aimed at discrediting NATO, and the Swedish public, which wasn’t accustomed to their news sources being unreliable, has been left confused and unsure what to believe.

The next article is also from the NYT and portrays a similar situation in Finland from the perspective of a respected journalist who is trying to fight back, only to find herself the brunt of vicious attacks by pro-Russian trolls.  The story also refers to the actions of Johan Bäckman, whose writings have shown pro-Putin and anti-Estonian bias.  He published a controversial book in 2008, harshly criticizing the Estonian government for its anti-Russian policies and actions during the 2007 Bronze Soldier protests.  The article can be found at: “Effort to Expose Russia’s ‘Troll Army’ Draws Vicious Retaliation.”

StopFake is a fact-checking website launched in March 2014 by the journalist community in Ukraine.  Its mission is focused on information published about events in Ukraine, but the Kremlin’s widespread disinformation campaign throughout Europe has widened their area of interest to media across the continent.  Their article, “Commission: Russian propaganda has deeply penetrated EU countries,” paints a clear and disturbing picture of the Russian campaign’s far-reaching tentacles.

Finally, Military.com’s article, “Russian Deception Delays Strategic Decisions, General Says,” shows how military planning can be delayed as planners sort through information to identify fact from deception.  Higher-level policy decisions are also influenced by Russia’s actions and motives.  No solution to the problem is offered, but experts agree that determining the depth and breadth of the problem and becoming more resilient to it are important first steps.

This brief overview by no means covers all aspects of Russia’s weaponization of information, which has a long history rooted in imperial Russia’s and the Soviet Union’s culture and methods.  Countering Putin’s information war has become a priority for NATO and U.S. leaders and we are likely to learn more about it as resources are applied to develop effective strategy for countermeasures.  In the meantime, the best we can do as consumers of the news and information presented by the sources we’re exposed to is to do diligent fact-checking of our own and be cautious about what we choose to believe.

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