Advocacy

Notable Estonians Testify in Congress

Ambassador Eerik Marmei and former President Toomas Hendrik Ilves both recently testified at separate Congressional hearings on Russia.  Marmei spoke before the Senate Appropriations Committee’s Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs on March 7th.  Ilves addressed the House Foreign Affairs Full Committee (HFAC) on March 9th and was scheduled to appear again on March 15th before the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism.

The Senate Appropriations Committee hearing examined Russian policies and intentions toward specific European countries and was chaired by Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC).  Witnesses included the Minister of Foreign Affairs from Ukraine and ambassadors from the three Baltic nations, Poland, and Georgia.  Its purpose was to broaden the committee’s understanding of Russia’s actions and their impact in the countries represented.  Ambassador Marmei stressed the importance of continued U.S. support and presence in the Baltic region and of implementing the decisions made at the NATO summits in Wales and Warsaw.  He encouraged members to avoid regionalizing the threat and instead to recognize Russia’s influence campaign as a threat throughout Europe and even reaching to the U.S. and beyond.  He expressed support for maintaining sanctions on Russia as long as the conditions of the Minsk agreement are not met.  He also described Russia’s current cyber and propaganda activities in Estonia and some measures the Estonian government has taken to counteract them.  A replay and written testimony for the hearing are available at www.appropriations.senate.gov/hearings.

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Estonian Ambassador Eerik Marmei and former President Toomas Hendrik Ilves at Congressional hearing on Russia

The HFAC hearing, chaired by Representative Edward Royce (R-CA), focused on Russian disinformation efforts to undermine democratic institutions and splinter NATO.  In addition to President Ilves, witnesses included former State Department Assistant Secretary for Political Affairs Lincoln Bloomfield; former U.S. Representative to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe Daniel Baer; and Mr. Peter Doran, Executive Vice President of the Center for European Policy Analysis.  Ilves’ testimony included identifying Europe as Russia’s “main battlefield” for influence using policies directed at splitting up the EU and NATO.  He also described the 2007 cyber attack on Estonia as the first time a digital attack had been used as punishment for a nation’s policy.  Full details are available at foreignaffairs.house.gov/hearing.

The Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on March 15th will assess Russia’s and other autocracies’ modus operandi and tool box for undermining democracies throughout the world.  More information is available at www.judiciary.senate.gov/meetings.

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Advocacy

Estonian Embassy Bestows Awards at Independence Day Commemoration

The Estonian Embassy in Washington hosted a reception on February 22nd in honor of the 99th anniversary of Estonian independence.  Among those attending were officials, diplomats, and representatives from the State Department, Congress, the Pentagon and the National Security Council. Ambassador Marmei opened the ceremony with greetings from President Kaljulaid.

The Ambassador bestowed presidential awards on three members of the audience.  Mr. James J. Townsend, Jr. received the Order of the Cross of Terra Mariana, 3rd Class for his contribution to security cooperation.  Mr. Townsend recently retired from his position as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for European NATO Policy.  His work in European and NATO policy began around 1990 and was instrumental in the ascension of the Baltic nations into NATO membership.  He expressed deep appreciation for his recognition as an ardent supporter and good friend of Estonia.

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Ambassador Marmei presents award to Mr. Townsend (photo courtesy of Estonian Embassy)

Mr. Alexander Russell Vershbow was awarded the Order of the Cross of Terra Mariana, 2nd Class to recognize his work to enhance security cooperation.  Mr. Vershbow was the U.S. Ambassador to NATO from 1998 to 2001, then served as the U.S. Ambassador to the Russian Federation from 2001 to 2005.  In 2009, he was appointed as the Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs, where he was responsible, among other things, for U.S. policy toward NATO, including supporting the continuing evolution of Estonia from new member to solid ally.  His career in European policy began in 1994 when he directed European Affairs at the National Security Council.

The citizen diplomacy award went to an Estonian-American in the Northern Virginia community, Mr. Tanel Beeren.  He was recognized for his contribution to promotion of Estonian culture in the Washington region.

The ceremony underlined the significance of players behind the scenes who don’t always get recognized for getting the important work done.  It also looked ahead to Estonia’s 100th anniversary of independence next year with gratitude and optimism for continued success and cooperation.

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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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