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JBANC Urges Quick Passage of NDAA and Funding to Baltics to Deter Russian Threats 
 
The Joint Baltic American National Committee (JBANC) has been visiting Senate and House offices to urge Members of Congress to support full funding for the $3.4 billion European Reassurance Initiative in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). JBANC is calling for the bill to be passed without delay once Congress reconvenes in November, as it is imperative to send a timely message that the United States remains resolute and vigilant. 
 
While we wait for the 114th Congress to finish its work, Russia's wars in Ukraine and Syria continue to exact a deadly toll. Sanctions against the Putin regime should be tightened and war crimes should be investigated.  

A growing concern in the Baltic region are reports of Russian Iskander missiles being deployed to Kaliningrad, which is within 500 km striking distance of not just Vilnius, Riga, and Tallinn, but Warsaw and Berlin as well. Russia’s actions, as stated in JBANC's letter, "have the potential to escalate to a wider European conflict, even one against NATO. Our efforts to deter such threats now are critical. In addition, Russia’s unrelenting disinformation campaign and other hybrid threats of destabilization put all of our allies at great peril." 
 
NATO allies Britain, Canada, and Germany are establishing high readiness combat battalions in Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, respectively, by early 2017. JBANC is urging that the U.S. military presence remains active and visible in the Baltic countries as well.   Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, as concludes JBANC's letter, "are active and capable contributors to our joint defense and defenders of Western standards and democracy."
 

Baltic Assembly 25th anniversary session in Riga includes JBANC participation

JBANC was represented by Alexander Blums (pictured above) at 35th Session of the Baltic Assembly and 22nd Baltic Council meeting held in Riga on October 27-28. In a statement read to participants at the Latvian Parliament (Saeima), Blums congratulated the Baltic Assembly on behalf of JBANC on its 25-year anniversary since its founding in 1991. Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia have seen tremendous progress during that time, and the excellent relations and cooperation between the three Baltic countries help set a positive example both here and abroad. 
 
The Baltic Assembly promotes intergovernmental cooperation between the Baltic republics and works on finding common positions in relation to many international issues, including in the economic, political, and cultural sphere. At this Session, primary items discussed centered on security and defense issues, migration and EU external border security, strategic communication, energy security, transport and infrastructure, cooperation in education and research, and other issues. Together with Baltic governmental representatives, joint actions were brought up included the closer cooperation of border guard services, the demographic situation in the Baltic countries, and development of Rail Baltic/Rail Baltica transportation project.
 
Seeing the Baltic countries and their governments and parliaments working closely together in the same spirit, for the safety, well-being, and betterment of Estonians, Latvians, and Lithuanians help motivate our communities. Baltic cooperation has long fueled the work of JBANC.  That is why it is important that we continue engaging with the Baltic communities in the U.S., and with friends of the Baltics, to inform them and encourage them to also remain active in raising attention to Baltic issues.
 

 
The Implications of Brexit on Baltic security

(By Alexander Blums) --- On June 23, the people of the United Kingdom and Gibraltar voted to discontinue the country's membership in the European Union. This came as a surprise to many people throughout the world, in part due to polling results showing the “remain” side in a lead. In the lead-up to the referendum, concerns were raised about the decreased ability for Britain to deal with security situations if it were to leave the EU. As former British ambassador to the United States Christopher Meyer said, “The UK leaving the EU would be a major blow to the EU’s ability to prevent conflict and make its citizens more secure.” Now that the United Kingdom has voted to exit the European Union, let us look at some possible scenarios which could potentially undermine Baltic security. 
 

 
Meeting with "Mission:Siberia"
 
On October 26, JBANC Managing Director Karl Altau met with representatives of the Lithuanian NGO Jauniems” (For the Youth), which manages "Misija Sibiras" (Mission:Siberia) to talk about the project and to help increase Baltic cooperation and visibility. Since their founding of Mission:Siberia in 2005, expeditions of young Lithuanians have traveled to dozens of locations in Siberia to maintain the cemeteries of Lithuanian deportees who perished in Soviet prisons and forced-labor camps. Expedition members have also visited with Lithuanian deportation survivors and their descendants who still live in these remote regions. Every year numerous presentations of that year's Mission are held in Lithuania and beyond, to tell about the work being done.

Pictured at the Embassy of Lithuania are Karl Altau, Project Manager Karolis Zemaitis, Director Ignas Rusilas, and 
Gintarė Gedrimaitė from the Embassy of Lithuania.
 

 

Estonian Experts Shine at CEPA Policy Forum

(By Karin Shuey/EANC) --- The Center for European Policy and Analysis (CEPA) held its annual transatlantic security forum in Washington on September 28-29.  Policy experts from 13 nations covered topics across the spectrum of national security concerns, including the Russian threat in the region, democracy, and Western values, cyber and information warfare, and energy implications.  High-level speakers came from national ministries and parliaments, government and educational institutions, think tanks, and the news media.  The U.S., Hungary, and Poland contributed the highest numbers of speakers with the remaining panelists fairly evenly spread, though one moderator quipped that Estonia had the highest representation per capita among participating experts.
                                                                                               CLICK HERE FOR FULL STORY
Russia’s Missile Deployment Adds to NATO’s Worries
in the Baltic

(By William Samuel and Luke Coffey, The Daily Signal) --- In an extremely worrying development for NATO, Russia earlier this month deployed several nuclear-capable Iskander mobile ballistic missile launchers in the Kaliningrad region. The location is a small Russian enclave on the Baltic between Poland and Lithuania that is home to Russia’s Baltic Fleet and several major military installations.

The deployment is widely seen as a countermove to NATO’s announcement that it will deploy more troops and missile defense systems to Poland and the Baltics, which Russia views as a direct threat to its security.

For the past 55 years JBANC has served as the primary advocacy organization representing Baltic-Americans in Washington, DC. As the Baltic countries near their centenary, we are reaching out to you to ask for help in assuring that the Baltic voice stays active and strong on Capitol Hill and with the Administration.
 
We are also planning our 12th Baltic conference in Washington, DC on the weekend of April 28-30, 2017.

Please Save the Date! 
 
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