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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