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In February, JBANC launched a new initiative to help inform Members of Congress on the security issues of the Baltic countries and to invite them to join the House Baltic Caucus.

 
Send a letter to your Representative and help secure the U.S.-Baltic ties
 

JBANC has drafted a letter you can send to your Congressman to invite him/her join the House Baltic Caucus. Please find the letter available to download here (Print and fill it by hand) and here  (fill it out in Word and print). Also, have a look at the example letter here. All you have to do is follow these simple steps listed on our website.
Remembering Victims of 1949 Deportations from Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, and Belarus National Day
 
We will light candles to honor and remember the innocent citizens of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, who were arrested and deported to the Soviet Union in March, 1949, and those victims from Belarus, who celebrate their National Day.

Friday, March 25, 2016
5:00 - 6:00 p.m.
Victims of Communism Memorial 

 

Bring a candle or light one of ours. We should never forget and we should never let the world forget.
Vladimir Putin visits the English-language service of Russia Today, now renamed RT. Photo: Getty Images.
Summary of Chatham House’s research paper
"Russia’s ‘New’ Tools for Confronting the West: Continuity and Innovation in Moscow’s Exercise of Power"
by associate fellow Keir Giles.
 
 
-In the last two years, Russia has demonstrated its return to an assertive foreign policy by successful military interventions in Ukraine and Syria. The capabilities it employed to do so surprised the West, despite being well advertised in advance and their development described in detail by the Russia-watching community in Western nations.

-Nevertheless, the techniques and methods displayed by Russia in Ukraine have roots in traditional Soviet approaches. [...] Today, as in the past, Western planners and policy-makers must consider and plan not only for the potential threat of military attack by Russia, but also for the actual threat of Moscow’s ongoing subversion, destabilization and ‘active measures’.

-Two specific tools for exercising Russian power demand close study: the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation; and the state’s capacity for information warfare. In both of these fields, Russia’s capabilities have developed rapidly in recent years to match its persistent intentions. 

-Russia has now demonstrated both the capacity of its conventional military capabilities and willingness to use them. The trend of the past 10 years appears set to continue – the more Russia develops its conventional capability, the more confident and aggressive it will become. Despite the perception of Russian operations in eastern Ukraine as irregular warfare, it was a large-scale conventional military cross-border intervention in August 2014 that brought to a halt the previously successful Ukrainian government offensive, and stabilized the front line close to the one currently holding under the Minsk agreements.

-Misconceptions about the nature of Russian information campaigns, and how best to counter them, remain widespread – in particular the notion that successful countermeasures consist in rebutting obvious disinformation wherever possible. [...] But by applying Western notions of the nature and importance of truth, this approach measures these campaigns by entirely the wrong criteria, and fundamentally misunderstands their objectives.

-In short, Russian military interventions and associated information warfare campaigns in the past two years have not been an anomaly. Instead they are examples of Russia implementing its long-standing intent to challenge the West now that it feels strong enough to do so. For Western governments and leaders, an essential first step towards more successful management of the relationship with Moscow would be to recognize that the West’s values and strategic interests and those of Russia are fundamentally incompatible.
 
Nikolajs Timrots
Maryland Sister States Program hosts annual
Legislative Reception in Annapolis, MD
 
On March 23, 2016, the Maryland Sister States Program hosted its annual Legislative Reception in conjunction with the Office of the Secretary of State of Maryland. The event was held in the Miller Senate Building in Annapolis and featured showcases of current projects and initiatives from most of the 18 Sister State programs that Maryland shares with other countries, including with Estonia.
 
Speakers at the event included Maryland Secretary of State John C. Wobensmith, Lieutenant Governor Boyd Rutherford, and Sister Cities International President and CEO Mary D. Kane. Other speakers included a number of Maryland state legislators.
 
JBANC interview with the Maryland Secretary of State John C. Wobensmith: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=olQki_UIrCI
 
The Maryland-Estonia program is represented by the Maryland Estonia Exchange Council, Inc. (MEEC), in which JBANC is actively involved.
 
Maryland’s Sister State program with Harju County in Estonia exists officially since 2009, and grew out of the Maryland-Estonia Partnership for Peace Program, which was established in 1993 under the auspices of NATO. That year, the Maryland National Guard was linked to the Estonian Kaitseliit (Home Guard) as part of a State Partnership Program. MEEC has been coordinating non-military links between Estonia and Maryland since 2003.  In 2006 and 2009 official agreements were signed formalizing the civilian links.  In 2009 MEEC became a member of the Maryland Secretary of State’s Sister State Advisory Board.
 
Maryland and Estonia also share nearly ten Sister and partner cities. For more information about MEEC and these related programs, please visit: http://www.marylandestoniaexchangecouncil.org/.
Strikers arriving in Estonia

2016 CEEC Presidential Questionnaire


In March, The Central and East European Coalition reached out to the 2016 presidential campaigns and sent them the CEEC Presidential Questionnaire covering questions of importance to the Central and Eastern European communities in the United States. 

Please find the 2016 presidential questionnaire here: http://www.ceecoalition.us/

The Central and East European Coalition is comprised of 18 national membership organizations that represent more than 22 million Americans who trace their heritage to the countries of Central and Eastern Europe (CEE). We are keenly interested in issues that affect the stability and well-being of the region, U.S. strategic interests in the region, and our American constituencies.
Strikers arriving in Estonia
JBANC continues to urge Representatives to join
the House Baltic Caucus

JBANC continued its campaign to urge members of the U.S. House of Representatives to join the House Baltic Caucus (HBC), co-chaired by Congressmen John Shimkus (R-IL) and Adam Schiff (D-CA). There are currently 53 members of the HBC.

On March 18 and 22, we visited with close to 120 congressional offices to provide more information about the HBC and the concerns of the Baltic-American community, which are focused on Russia’s ongoing aggression and threats in the Central and East European region. JBANC is looking for strong support for the request to bolster defensive deterrence measures in the European Reassurance Initiative, which would provide $3.4 billion in funding, including to Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. The Baltic countries, as front line defenders, are rapidly preparing for contingencies that may occur during Russia’s widening aggression against its neighbors, particularly in Ukraine.

JBANC has also been asking for support in co-sponsoring the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act (H.R. 624), to sanction human rights offenders, including those in the Russian Federation. There are now 62 co-sponsors. The Senate passed a similar measure in December, 2015, and it is now up to the House to mark up the bill for passage.
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