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tv   Eastern European Ambassadors Testify on Russian Policies Toward Europe  CSPAN  March 8, 2017 4:15am-6:14am EST

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senator lindsey graham chairs the senate appropriation committeappropriationscommittee. it's two hours. >> [inaudible conversations]
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>> the subcommittee will come to order. i want to thank senator leahy for being such a good partner in this endeavor. the hearing today is on russia's policies towards specific european nations. one thing we have in common with all these countries is young struggling democracies and their friends in the united states i won't announce any of your names. i will try to get your country right and you have an opportunity when we speak to tell us who you are. we have the foreign ministers of
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ukraine, the ambassador from lafayettbosnia and estonia. i miss most of you on my travels and can't thank you for coming out today to share with the committee and the american people what's going on in your backyard because you live in a very difficult neighborhood. i would like to welcome to the committee senator rubio and van hollen who is going to be hopefully to do things together in the country and i will make a short opening statement followed by senator leahy and h people he five-minute rounds, and again to eacagainsteach of you thank youh for coming. very briefly, talking about what happened in the election in 2016 the russians tried to interfere in our election. i don't believe they changed the outcome but it was the russians that hacked into the democratic
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committee and who compromised e-mails and in my view it was the russians who provided that information to wiki leaks in an effort to interfere and it is my belief that we forgive and forget regarding our own election to invite future aggression of other countries thabut the republican party ande democratic party should be one when it comes to foreign interference and an attack on one party should be considered an attack on all and i want the subcommittee to lead the way in terms of uniting the country to push back on the interference and democracy. what it was like to live in the shadow of russia and what kind of interference they face and realize and what are the efforts and the toolbox to undermine their democracies, and for us to
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create a counter russia account, a soft power account. the committee has jurisdiction over the operations and i would like to convince most americans it is in our interest to put some money aside to help these democracies because at the end of the day, the democracy should be a goal of all of us simply because democracies tend not to go to war and i want to make sure we can do whatever we can within reason money is tight but it would be a good investment to have a counter russia account. we can help you withstand this assault on the democracies by russia and that is the goal to understand what these going on and do something about it, thank you for coming to the committee. i think if we come together to produce a product that history would judge us well.
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>> i want to mention it's always given me a pronunciation in the fact in georgia, poland, ukraine, places that many of us we know the mistakes involved is the second congressional hearing we have russia since the beginning of the new administration i suspect we would have a lot more from their representatives in the countries that have experienced the military question and economic and political interference for many years.
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we learn that the russian government interfered in the elections to prove its own interest and they said virtually nothing about it. other white house officials that disparaged the news media if they were critical he scolds them news media the enemy of the people and someone that might expect president putin but not of the united states. we should have an investigation into the interference in the election and what can happen when we take appropriate action. but at the same time, we have to
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have hearings like the chairman called here so the american public will know exactly what's happened in other parts of the world and what we face. it is one thing when we see the leaders attacking american media. i definitely disagree with that. but i disagree with it even more fun nothing is done on the ruthless campaign to silence the critics especially to solve and silence the russian press. we've not heard any criticism from our president about the invasion of ukraine annexation of crimea, the occupation of the georgia territory, the atrocities created in support for the regime. the efforts undermined stability and democracy across europe.
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i think, i want you to know not everybody in this country is praising vladimir putin. i want to assure that u.s. assistance is made available for our partners and what is a part of the former soviet union. they recognized the importance of ensuring the partners to maintain their sovereignty. do i agree with the president and say we should have a constructive relationship with russia rather than adversarial,
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yes if that is possible. but we cannot ignore the significance of the russian government's commitment activities if we want to protect the national interest then we can talk about where we go diplomatically from their. thank you for having this important lineup with us. >> we will start with a foreign minister of ukraine. it is great to see the new line here in the committee.
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back in 1994 he was a diplomat in the strategic development. we are working on a memorandum and i hear the aggression is affecting to ensure security of ukraine. still, i hate to say it is was s beyond my imagination in 20 years in the territorial integrity, the un security council member will occupy the territory. why did it happen? here is the key to understand the root cause of the policies, particularly ukraine. it was the greatest catastrophic of the century from the very
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beginning. one was to build strong to the critic states into a competitive market economy on earning the international principle order to. it was in the gross violations of international law and a break in the charter undermining the arms control and possibly violating the treaty's and energy pressure for the principles and of course blatantly violating the human rights. kremlin has developed the concept of warfare with the
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legal annexation of crimea. it is a highly sophisticated strategy in which it fixes the economy and economic pressure with propaganda and misinformation as well as direct interference in other countries. it is to undermine and disrupt across the channel to promote any particular narrative but to undermine that of the cost. in real terms, this war against ukraine translates into a number and crimea. it's now about 4,200 troops with
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40,000 militants and it's about more than 400 banks and 800 armored vehicles and it is up to thousands of artillery systems and over 200 multiple rocket launchers. around 23,000 troops in the occupied crimea. just a few hours ago the russian agent is an international made a completely ridiculous statement that the militants actually discovered all this ordinary in the old coal mines. just today, can -- has led to over 7% of ukraine occupied
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almost 10,000 of my fellow ukrainians or military civilians losing their lives with another 23,000 injured. in the last six weeks, they launched a fierce attack against our troops and civilian population. russia has recognized the documents issued by a legal entities and also completed the introduction of the currency in the occupied territory and furthermore, russia has also ordered the legal expropriation of the key enterprises in the occupied territory. all of this is a breach of each and every agreement. the only way to negotiate with
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russia is from a position of strength and international solidarity. no agreement should be made with russia until such as delivered. let me thank all of you for the support the united states has given in particular over the last three years fighting against insurgent russia and the new administration gives us great hope the united states support for ukraine will continue. as the continued support is not just in the interest of ukraine, it is in the interest of the united states and the freedom and stability of the alliance. so, i am asking the subcommittee for its support in a number of areas. weapons supplied by the u.s. and the continued military and
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technical support would make a powerful statement to the kremlin and would boost the ability to defend its territory. this support has already shown its effectiveness. the battalion of the brigade was one of the most destructive of the attacks. the units prepared by the u.s. appear to be very effective on the front line. that is why we believe this kind of support is important and should be continued. i would like to ask you to support the preservation for security in ukraine in the age of 2017 and please support the preparation of assistance in ukraine in the u.s. fiscal year
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2017 budget of course the 2018 budget. ukraine also needs a long-time securitlongtimesecurity arrangee partnership and cooperation in defense insecurities. the united states will be the key for such arrangement. of course we need u.s. support in the negotiations for the memorandum. the united states should play the key role in the negotiatio negotiations. and finally, until russia goes off, there must be no reasonable protection if anything they should be increased. ukraine is on the frontline and currently the only country fighting to hold off russia. ukraine does not seem to ask for support. we currently spend 6.6% of our
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gdp on defense. at the same time, we need the solidarity with ukraine and the ukrainian people. strong, stable and democratic ukraine able to defend its borders against russian expansionists is a crucial ally for the united states regional and global. thank you. >> thank you very much. if you could please try to keep statements to five minutes. we have questions you can tell us anything on your mind of its time is of the essence in the senate so thank you very much. mr. ambassador. >> mr. chairman, members of the subcommittee, thank you for inviting me to testify before the senate subcommittee. it is an honor to be here and i'm pleased to be able to provide the view of the government on the policies in europe and the challenge
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originating from it. the kremlin has achieved a strategical objectives to restore the superpower status lost after the fall of communism. the way to achieve this goal seems straightforward ordering the security architecture in europe in feeding post-soviet countries from integrating in the community. first, the current situation. while preserving its objectives, moscow largely relies on force, intimidation and economic extortions trying to impose on other countries and autocratic form of government. russia invaded and battled in the conflict and violated international law by enacting crimea. finally, the kremlin mastermind keeps fueling eastern ukraine and although moscow found the cease-fire agreements in minsk
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one and two it didn't withdraw from the region the point to achieve the political solution and even worse, during the last weeks we have seen increasing military clashes. second, russia is a growing military threat. president putin embarked russia on a large-scale modernization of its armed forces. the introduction of the new equipment was coupled with reform of the military doctrine. the threshold for the usage of nuclear weapons has been lower lowered. bordering poland and lithuania became the most militarized region in europe. russia had anti-access denial capabilities. this aims at limiting the freedom of maneuver and action on the territory. it's spending from northeastern
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poland to the baltic states and moreover com, it is equipped ine systems and able of hitting targets in latvia, poland and even in eastern parts of germany. they conduct large-scale exercises with openly aggressive scenarios. we also observe an unprecedented number of military incidents provoked by russia that the most alarming issue is russia's ability to take prompt actions. we saw that in crimea. third, the hybrid dimension. the trend of the actions go beyond the conventional military realm and we see them in the cyber informational energy domains. russia deliberately inflates the hybrid means.
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there's vulnerabilities in the sensitivities and this might involve actions in the cyber domain frequently backed by the propaganda efforts. they try to diversify and russia promotes the north pipeline creating divisions among the member states. should the project go-ahead russia could effectively send its diversification efforts in the whole region and increased supply from russia would inevitably affect the economic viability of the products in central and eastern europe. forthcoming or response. two words, uncertainty and insecurity best describe the current security situation we operate in. such conditions and challenges call for an adequate answer.
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nato is the best platform to discredit and is a force multiplier. determining those threats and challenges requires full implementation of the decisions taken in warsaw of 2016. furthermore, my government believes a special meeting in of the heads of state and governments should be important in the process of adapting the alliances. as the challenges we face are here to stay, the presence of allied troops in the alliance should have a long-term character. poland is very grateful for those actions. it will be impossible to achieve without american leadership. in this context i would also like to thank you for the deployment of the troops to the region under the nato threat.
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a long-term american commitment is absolutely essential. i would like to add the presence of american soldiers in poland as part of an operation is of equal and paramount importance. further, congressional support for the initiative would be greatly appreciated. mr. chairman, distinguished members of this subcommittee, as sharing among allies is if they must, poland and 2% among the guidelines. more than 20% of our 2017 military budget would expand on the equipment. our soldiers served in missions in afghanistan and kosovo. poland contributes the defense and the company has been deployed to latvia under the framework of the efp. the maritime group is extended
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to operating. poland has always been ready to deal with its terrorist threats and publishing american soldiers are brothers in arms during the missions in iraq and afghanistan and altogether more than 40,000 polish troops took part in those operations. nowadays pulled and is an active member of the coalition. moreover, our efforts go beyond the military domain. last year the opening of a terminal in poland would become a gateway for lng destined for clients in central europe delivering gas supplies to ukraine would send a powerful political message while providing business opportunities for american firms. moscow orchestrated and has all the means to end it.
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moscow found a cease-fire agreement minced one and two but does not respect the traditions. moreover, russia decided to recognize the documents produced by the so-called republics. to sum up, taking into account russia's actions, we see no grounds to ease the sanctions or change our policy with moscow. congressional support for maintaining the unity and solidarity on this issue is indispensable. a couple weeks ago, general james mattis said w we'd worked together stronger than ever in times of turmoil and unpredictability. i firmly believe the political and military engagement in the u.s. is necessary for preserving peace and stability in europe. witlet me stress we remain openo dialogue with russia. however, such dialogue needs to
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be conditioned on changing its current policies and stance towards international law. thank you again for the opportunity to testify today, and i look forward to taking questions. >> thank you. for those that stick to five minutes, your chance of assistance goes up. [laughter] thank you very much. ambassador from georgia. >> mr. chairman, ladies and gentlemen, i am here today to remind you 20% of our country remains under russian occupati occupation. despite ongoing russian aggression with the support of the united states, georgia has made a tremendous stride in strengthening the democratic institutions forcing the economic development and solidifying the irreversible path towards europe and the integration. i'm also here to tell you that we need a stronger america and
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georgia in the region. the conflict started in the early '90s reached its peak in 2008 with the invasion of georgia. as the international community failed to effectively respond to early warning signs russia continues the military security personnel and the russian occupation forces have no legal mandate and are in violation of international law. august 12, 20 of 8, the cease-fire agreement. in 2009, russia began the wire fences and other obstacles along the line. the total length of the trenches across both occupational and is more than 62 miles. we greatly appreciate the interest of congress and its parties and representatives who are frequently visiting the occupational line. further violation of the
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agreement moscow signed so-called treaties with the occupational regime's. these represent a step toward the annexation of the regions as they provide foundation for full integration into social, economic and administrative and most importantly, military and security institutions in the russian federation. georgia is pursuing an engagement and reconciliation process with the people in the territories. we have benefits available that are accessible for those residing on the other side of the line, free healthcare, educational, scientific, other benefits such as the liberalization. since regaining its independence to undermine the territorial integrity, russia has been subject to, georgia has been subject to this hybrid warfare and the russian propaganda and georgia in addition to the
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economic embargo in the energy cuts and cyber attacks in 2008 sees the challenge and the atlantic integration and they fear it exists creating and communicating with different forms of media. it is driving on false information that came at the expense of building refugee camps and georgia. the government has been effective in the strategic communication efforts through coordinated approaches but also bringing tangible results to the georgia citizens like free trade agreements, association agreements with europe and the liberalization. as a result, we have managed to maintain strong support within 70 to 75%.
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overall, despite the vicious efforts for the small niche and georgia makes an outside contribution in the international security efforts locating more than 2% of our gdp we are a committed partner in fighting against terrorists and we are one of the largest contributors to the mission in afghanistan. ..
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it has been a great example of american taxpayer money wisely spent. i want to invite the members in this committee to a visit and see first hand the transformational power of u.s. assistance. we successfully launched the program. further improvement of the program is of vital importance as we believe georgia remains an essential part of the security architect. [inaudible]
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new leadership is needed to fortify the alliance. new administration will include the strengthening and improving bilateral trade economy, investor relationship and georgian people. all these will make us stronger more resilient. that's important because it's in the united states interest. >> thank you very much for inviting me to speak before this committee.
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have safeguarded independence and facilitated the integration back into the community. the world has become less secure and less stable. to safeguard and international rules -based order, it's the best answer for today's security risk. since 2003 troops have been shoulder to shoulder and stood with u.s. and fight fight against terrorism in iraq and afghanistan. both have made sacrifices and remains committed to fighting terrorism against isil. we can do more and are ready to do more threats around us,
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threats of the region become more complex. [inaudible] there's a trend we have to reckon with. what happened in ukraine, the military buildup as well as maneuvers. [inaudible] this year we have caused a challenge to european international security order. this has direct impact.
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we need a strong nato as a source of stability and reliability. we need a prosperous and resilient european union. thanks to historical decision of the summit under the deployment of national battle groups including canadian battle group in latvia, we are more scared. we are reassured this is very practical expression of solidarity from our allies and strong deterrent signal with russia. security in our region is greatly thanks to congress support and the reinsurance initiative in the foreign military financing program for which we are very grateful.
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taking into account the challenges to our region on a full-term nature we are looking forward to continuation of european reassurance initiative and the funding level of the $3.4 billion higher. dollars higher. likewise we have the foreign military financing funding will be maintained or enhanced. the continuing u.s. commitment to nato is essential to preserve the reversibility of these decisions. we appreciate the clear and resolute statement by james mattis. thus reconfirming the u.s. strong support. the meeting of the president of the states and the vice president of munich reassured us even further in this respect.
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we are older and in the past two years boosting its military ability and coordination and. we will spend 2% of gdp for our defense. [inaudible] is not only been a but also a provider of security. in proportion of our population of 2 million, recount among the top contributors from afghanistan, iraq, central
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african, republic or somalia. europe and u.s. should join efforts to help ukraine and others. [inaudible] latvia has been active in providing the support and strengthening independent mediums. i would like to mention two examples of the support. [inaudible] recently completed a study on skills and training needs to independent media in the eastern partnership countries. latvia is interested in the success of the creative constant support that is being established with the support of european for democracy and british government. this will strengthen the
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capacity of independent media to offer russian language audiences a stronger alternative to media if the u.s. considers supporting this important initiative. during the pivotal times of history, the alliance has always proven to be effective, credible and united. solidarity is a keyword. i believe the spirit of solidarity will bring us to a wise future decision. >> thank you very much. the ambassador from lithuania. >> thank you for the opportunity to be here before you today to present our assessment. we want to explore the possibility between lithuania and the u.s.
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let me name the threats we face. russia has never stopped using its political, economical propaganda and tools to make the democratic countries more vulnerable to the present day challenges. the attack on georgia, the legal annexation and the war in ukraine are being perceived as having implications on national security. it's the most military zone in europe. it's. [inaudible] they are using fake news to can use public opinion and influence decision-making.
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in my written testimony, you will find various examples of the separate examples against lithuania. it has a potential. [inaudible] how we fight back these threats. in 2018 it will be spending gdp on defense and go beyond this benchmark in the future. we are modernizing our military by spending 31% of the budget for new weapon systems. the terminal independence was one of the best things for our security. as its name suggests. [inaudible] it to. [inaudible] it has also open markets for the potential deliveries from the united states. the senators using this opportunity, allow me to thank you for your personal and united states support to our security. we greatly appreciate this strengthening of the u.s. presence in europe and its implementation.
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we do believe the best, therefore the only way to achieve regional stability is to place troops on a permanent basis. it's necessary to have forces and military plans. when it comes to practical areas of defense, they have been engaged and we are ready to move forward with more precise bilateral projects and timeline with financial resources on both sides. the project. [inaudible] while paying new attention to defense issues possibility to
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access some of the u.s. services and tools would make the system more efficient. currently they are broadcasting almost ten hours a day in russian and belarusian anguish is spread we need to increase the radio coverage and improve the signal quality for listeners in russia, belarus, ukraine we should also work together on tv programs within the region. there is great need to tell we are aiming to strengthen border security. we'll be launching a new so-called awareness sensor your
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experience in this area would be greatly appreciated. thank you for you this to tell you our part of the story today. we will continue to be your reality reliable ally. thank you and i'm pleased. [inaudible] >> thank you that's the model for the rest of us but you need nailed it. lithuania is doing well. >> get out the checkbook. >> my name is eric. i'm the ambassador of estonia. ranking member lee, members of the committee, thank you for the invitation to testify. before the united states senate and appropriations committee. it's an honor to be here. first let me emphasize how important the united states steadfast support for the freedom and independence of estonia has been. our membership is the cornerstone of our prosperity
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and security and we are mindful of the role the u.s. has played in assisting us. they would like nothing more than to have good relations with democratic russia and all levels of society. show commitment to the core values of democracy, human rights rights and the rule of law are indispensable for good relations. we shouldn't be guided by wishful thinking. example of activities in europe to name a few include the russia georgia wall, the crimea, provocative of activity by the russian military and interference in western democratic processes, including elections. we have learned that in adequate responses to such behavior can only. [inaudible] i would like to stress.
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[inaudible] our goal, our allies in the west, therefore it is essential not to regionalized the threat to the eastern european countries but to recognize it has extended far beyond the flank of europe including to the united states. we as neighbors to russia, were just a a bit more used to witnessing such behavior. upcoming elections in the netherlands, france and germany. the goal of russian influence and activities in europe is to create tension and so confusion between european member states within individual states. by doing so the kremlin hopes to influence the disc decision-making process and steer the narrative and outcomes toward its own interest. the illegal annexation of crimea succeeded largely because of the successful information war that allowed russia the confrontation
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this forces the adversary. [inaudible] joint action and the decision has been the strongest message so far. to be creative we need to stand by our values and be consistent in our policies. we need to take into account that russian sees it being a confrontational era in the west for a long time. we the west needs aversive actions but incorporation between these two organizations. this should be done in practical terms.
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we need to decode the russian hybrid method playbook. we need to raise awareness of the decision-makers and the public at large in order to limit the ability to abuse the open nature of our society. we can do it by exposing the support to politicians, seemingly innocent or economic leverage came through murky business connections. it can and should be strengthened. the kremlin makes extensive use of russian and foreign language. it can sometimes be counter effective. the effectiveness of this can be diminished by enhancing reading skills with intendants audiences
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than open and free high-quality media environment with various voices. we play an important role in effecting positive change. to mention but a few. >> thank you again for the opportunity to provide you with my thoughts and i am ready to look forward to answering your questions. >> thank you all for coming and informing the subcommittee of what you face. with the there was a recent deployment of german soldiers to lithuania to help train
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lithuanian military. i have been informed that as soon as the soldiers from germany arrived there was an allegation that a soldier had raped a lithuanian woman. are you familiar with that. >> you may have broken them all. >> it didn't take long. right after german troops it's almost like the second day, after the arrival, a teenage girl was raped allegedly by german troops. it was fake news. it was cooked, but of course as
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you know not all people are aware, listening listening to the announcement of this that it's not true. >> did it come from the russian news outlet. >> yes, that's what we suspect. it's always difficult to get where it comes from first, but that's what we suspect because the ideas very clear. >> have you experienced an uptick of russian involvement since president obama drew the red line in syria and nothing happened? hasn't been the same the whole time? >> do know what i'm talking about? did that at affect russia's involvement or is it all about the same? >> i wouldn't say there hasn't been some significant changes, but we are experiencing russian hybrid warfare for 25 years and
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maybe we have become more resilient, certainly it has never stopped and certain narratives are not changing and so the methods are still being used and in this sense, very much has been disclosed by journalists, where the fake acts are emerging, i wouldn't say the intensity has changed in the course of last year, it hasn't diminished as well. >> has russians interference in your country been constant? is it on the rise? >> yes, it has been constant. we've experienced this for the past 25 years i think what really opened our eyes was 2007 cyber attacks against estonia.
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even today they remain one of the most important areas, and we really need to put more emphasis on this issue as well. >> what you think the consequences would be if our country for gave and forgot the interference in our election by russia. what kind of effect you think that would have on russia. >> russia has developed how to use unconventional warfare. >> my question is what would the effect be if the united states did not act regarding the
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interference in our election. would it embolden russia. >> otherwise -- >> being an ambassador from poland, do you agree with that. >> it's difficult for me to make comments on what americans should do or should not wear what would happen if americans didn't do something, but i think investigation in such cases could not be covered. it should just be investigated, every case. >> to continue with my colleague from poland, as i have mentioned in my remarks, it seems that
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international response on the occupation of georgia was insufficient and it might have led to the further migration towards ukraine. i think the responses genuinely necessary. >> thank you, you will have a chance to tell the subcommittee what we could do to help you. >> senator lane. >> thank you, this has been very instructive. am i pronouncing your name correctly? >> yes. >> thank you. in 2014 after the russian annexation of crimea, the united states has supported ukrainian government against pro russian
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separatists. during the campaign he said he might want to draw u.s. support as a deal with elmer payton and look into recognizing and approving of russia's annexation of crimea. have you or any other senior ukrainian officials met with president trump or secretary tillerson to discuss the policy toward ukraine? >> i've just met with secretary tillerson a couple hours ago and it was a very strong message of support for ukraine, and any kind of trade-off are not possible.
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our president had to phone conversations with president trump and it was the same clear message. >> did he say anything about time yes. >> no not about crimea. crimea is the issue of truth and international law. >> how important is our aid to ukraine? >> the u.s. support and u.s. assistance and security related assistance and reform related assistance was and is fundamental for ukraine for our ability to counter the russian aggression and create a democratic and european ukraine. >> thank you. >> ambassador, your country, the country of poland, is uniquely
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positioned. unfortunately, over over the years you've always been uniquely positioned geographically between the conflict between russia and ukraine. also the broader eu and nato interest. now russia has deployed nuclear capable missiles to trinidad. i assume that created significant challenges for you. i'm i correct in that. >> as i have just said, the deployment of these missiles is very essential for our security. i think it was a kind of breakthrough moment because it strengthens this feeling of insecurity and uncertainty and it's not only about poland, it's
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about flexibility of nato in this region and also about countries and other countries. this area, this region is especially sensitive area and as i said, the most militarized area in the whole of europe. >> are you getting, do you get support from nato? do you feel nato support is strong? >> yes, we feel an enormous support both from nato and bilaterally from the united states so i think the whole project of deployment implemented right now and we understand still it supportively by the united states and essential for our security and very important.
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>> i look at all the areas in the baltic areas. do you feel any greater or less concerned about a russian invasion since the elections here in the united states? does anybody want to start with that? >> i think we've all been concerned since 2008, we are all concerned because we see the international rules -based order is being challenged and that's a concern for all of europe and all of nato, and here we are
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considering the most important principle is indivisibility of nato territory and it doesn't matter which part can be challenged, it's a challenge for the whole nato. assurances of nato, the presence of nato on baltic soil and reassurance given to the u.s. in particular gives a strong sense, strong response to anybody who wants to challenge nato as the strongest military organization and that's the only response we can expect from nato and that's the response that is understandable for everybody and that gives us, small nations, a good sense of assurance about our security, safety and stability for the future.
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>> i take it, does anybody disagree with that? >> you all agree with the investor. >> thank you. >> if i may, senator, i think what we have seen in the past two and half years, to nato summits and warsaw, they have made very important decisions and it's important to implement those decisions and we don't see any change in direction in that sense. this is my answer to a question, if there's change of direction after the elections in the united states, no, we don't see that happening. >> thank you. >> thank you very much. >> german, thank you very much. thank you for joining us. >> as we make decisions about spending money, taxpayer dollars of american taxpayers, what would you highlight for me as the priorities we should have in
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the financial aid that we provide your countries? is there consensus? i'm happy to have one or a few of you respond if there's consensus in what's the highest priority. >> if i may, probably the programs that have been mentioned today, this initiative has started and financing is assured. we hope very much this program will be financed fully, and maybe even higher, as well for military financing received by baltic state of improving our resilience and part of the programs devoted to hybrid
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warfare, and these programs can be in different shapes, whether whether it's strengthening of free media, independent media, or propaganda, or hybrid attacks, all of these programs are doing very relevant work to increase resilience. >> does anyone with wish to add or subtract. >> minister. >> this will probably be a different one, but in our case it's definitely about upgrading the ukraine defense to nato standards. it's about training and control, and we understand now that it's about exchange and supply of weapons.
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>> let me ask if anyone has other thoughts. if you get that to the committee, i want to ask more questions. if you provide the answer in writing i'd appreciate it. there are some eu members that are chafing at the continued imposition of sanctions against russia. in your estimation, what do we need to do to keep eu unified in its support for those sanctions and how significant is it that the united states continue its sanctions in that effort? >> senator, as long as we keep to the principle of agreements there will be unity on both sides of the atlantic. this is a very clear message we should send to russia that it is the basic fundamental agreement
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that has to be fulfilled by all parties and as long as this is done, as long as this is not done, the, the sanctions should continue. >> i would add that as long as u.s. is strong on sanctions and that is the strongest will we have in our toolbox, that will unite europe. >> so if i can paraphrase, u.s. leadership matters in this regard. thank you. let me ask about energy. there is a study that indicates estonia with the way and you and poland are among the eu member's most vulnerable to a problem with the energy if russia take certain actions and yet there's a 2014 european commission study that says there are cooperative measures among the eu that could significantly reduce the impact
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of any short-term cut off supplies of energy. are those answers in place? the things that could reduce the implications of an energy cut off? does the eu take the steps necessary to mitigate the damage. >> i would say. [inaudible] we do believe we are strengthening our linkages so we are able to get the gas from anywhere. it's no longer possible for russia to blackmail us on the gas. on electricity we still have one big projects to come.
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at the significant projects but that will be the last straw in our independence. that will make the baltic states independent and self-sufficient in this regard. for other countries it could be different. >> thank you very much. let me combine it with your first question with regard to georgia's provider of energy supply for europe which is not dependent on russia. we have two pipelines. the third one is under construction and the importance of strengthening stability in georgia is one of the pathways to supplying the alternative energy sources for europe is critical and therefore one of the main attentions from the united states we expect in the energy sector. >> thank you.
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>> as far as the energy cooperation is concerned, we believe in poland that it should be based on mutual benefit. it should be beneficial for those countries to cooperate like the united states and central europe. this terminal and poland is a very important part of this project. there is also a project in progress of the baltic pipeline with denmark and norway and of course there is the very important issue being forced by russia and this is a project which does divides european union partners because now it's suspended for some time, but this is actually interesting as
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far as energy is concerned, the european union should be the energy union. this is an idea for a much advertised by poland that the european union, if it's not an energy union, there is no union. we think about diversification and cooperation with the united states and it's very important for central europe. >> senator koontz. >> thank you mr. chairman. i want to specifically thank you for convening this hearing and assembling these ambassadors from vital european allies and focusing us on a bipartisan way on how we can confront russian aggression. i am encouraged that we create a counter russia account to strengthen our allies and partners.
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this is the 150 anniversary of this body. i think recognizing having a strong hand in shaping our investment overseas is something that has relevance. i joined my colleague, marco rubio last week in a bipartisan speech on the floor of congress about the importance of countering russian aggression. we reviewed counterintelligence based on trips we have taken and hearing about hybrid warfare and the illegal and inappropriate annexation of crimea and the importance of our standing in solidarity with our allied and poland and the baltic state. they just want to mention two bills in the senate that have already garnered bipartisan support.
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for those who have concern about the absence of bipartisanship. the russian history act has ten republicans and ten democrats cosponsoring it. it would make russia pay the price for the illegal annexation of crimea and ongoing violence in ukraine for the support of asad's murder regime in syria and meddling in our elections last november. the russian review act would make certain that congress passed away and before sanctions against russia could be waived. i am proud to be a cosponsor as are many on this subcommittee. we continue to believe that the transatlantic relationship is essential. at the force for stability in the world to maintain the world order that we work to build over the past seven decades. let me ask him questions. there's been a rumored proposal by the administration to cut by as much as 37% our state department which is essential for the funding of the
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programming's that we've been talking about. what with the absence of american leadership in syria mean for your country? would you feel safer in the face of an aggressive russia if we were to cut back on programs we discussed like radio free liberty and programs that support your resilience in terms of governance and democracy institutions and in terms of our sustainment and development issues. do any of you care to speak to that issue. >> i think this is just a rhetorical question. we will not feel safer when the budget for such projects will be essentially cut. we hope it is the deliberation and tweeting, not really a a decision, this sounds very dangerous but we hope it can still be changed and people who
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think this way will change their mind because american leadership in this region is essential. you know this very well, there is a great support for american leadership in this part of europe, maybe more than other parts of europe. we really rely on firm american leadership. >> i heard in several visits by my colleagues in a visit i took last august about the importance of strengthening our investment and countering russia today and other propaganda outlets you mentioned, the broadcasting from lithuania, excuse me from. [inaudible] my vision is not so good. that is very tiny print. tell me how russian propaganda operations are affecting your
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comment country and how we might strengthen and expand our investment and counter those operations that would be more effective. >> to give a short answer, probably we are less concerned in latvia about russia today because russia today, programs of russia today are are being broadcast in english. they have opportunities to broadcast in russia their major channels. the country is not putting any barriers to free speech or free broadcasting. at the same time we are aware of the content of these programs and what is essential is to give an alternative to different sources, to reliable sources, and give alternative of
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broadcasting in russian to understand and be objective, reliable and different from those major tv channels broadcasting from russia. >> one last question to the ambassador from georgia, i understand opec has helped make possible programs in georgia over the past 20 years in modernizing industries and in agriculture. can you comment on the value of opec helping make possible mutual beneficial programs in georgia. >> there are several programs that were implemented in georgia which is really productive, not only for developing and modernizing the economy potential, but also beneficial for both sides and therefore in that regard i can provide a more detailed way, more detailed
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information. >> terrific. thank you. >> senator brozman. >> thank you, mr. chairman. in your testimony, you talked about russia creating borders on the edge of territory. it is occupied in georgia. can you talk about the recent closing of two of these controlled crossing points and the impact it's had for george's territory. >> thank you very much for that question. very recently, just two days ago, russia controlled forces in the occupied region and have closed two checkpoints. that is a fact that is a free movement people and affecting free movement of schoolchildren
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over the occupational line, and we are really appreciative at the state department has made with regard to this development. also one recent development was the initiation two weeks ago by the de facto authorities to hold the referendum and renaming this region into the one associated with one of the economists republic. we also appreciate very strong statement that was made. these kind of developments continue in the peaceful resolution of this problem. we believe in the geneva discussion where they will focus on the activity. >> so you are pleased with the american response.
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>> there was a very strong commitment, a statement made yesterday by the state department about the closure of these two checkpoints, explaining what kind of humanitarian difficulties it will create for those people residing into the occupation line. >> let me ask whether wants to jump in, which u.s. administered programs in your country seem to have the most impact, and are there ways we can improve them? what's working? what programs do like the most? how can we make them better? >> thank you very much. we are really up appreciative. we are celebrating 25 years with our diplomatic relations.
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we believe this was essential for the survival and transformation and civil society and making new opportunities for our people. this comes through supporting george's resilience when it comes to the defense. [inaudible] we believe there's a space for more cooperation and trade and investment direction. >> i would say. [inaudible] they reach longer distances so that's most important.
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myself, i'm too old to remember the times with my father was listening. [inaudible] every morning there are plenty of people sitting by the radio and listening. it was a word of freedom. the more word of freedom you could spread through the region the better it will be. >> so you like the content, but stronger broadcast. >> thank you. i would emphasize that the most efficient funding has come through the foreign military fund. most of the american taxpayer
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money has gone to the capabilities and infrastructure build-up. we have received about 75 million u.s. dollars from the funding in recent two years, and we have spent that money on infrastructure but also the capability development on the antitank weapons. also the money which is very important and hopefully it will be increased in the coming years goes to the very important capability of elements. thank you. >> very quickly. if i could add to what my colleague said, the european initiative is most important for us and we would like to thank you for this, for increasing this program. it's very, very essential.
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also when my colleagues mentioned as well, all kinds of exchange of people and programs, we do not, we do need radio free europe but not as such an extent that it was under communism. people can move and visit each other's country. i think support and all kind of exchange programs is very important. people going both ways and learning about each other. i think strengthening american support, support of american citizens, it's very important that american taxpayers also see our countries and see them for exchange programs which are now underestimated.
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[inaudible] >> thank you very much chairman. thank you for being here. each of you is welcome to come back two or visit chicago which i am honored to represent where you will find many people from your homeland and you'll find many great restaurants in estonia, not just here. it will be well worth the visit. we would be honored to have you. three weeks ago i decided to visit warsaw. for the very reason that we are meeting today because i knew there was anxiety and concern about the future of nato and the future of our relationship.
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i met with many of the leaders from various countries. i remember one comment from four days of travel. the man who works for the foundation. we had dinner in warsaw and he asked me a question which goes to the point of the opening made by the chairman. he said we are wondering if the united states does not take the russian invasion into your election seriously, you take the russian invasion into poland seriously? i thought about that question i thought about it ever since spread i want to salute the chairman who has been one of the few who have been willing to step up and speak out about how this outrage of the cyber attack should not go unnoticed and certainly should be responded too. it's a starting point to our
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credibility when it comes to our relationship with russia. thank you mr. chairman for what you said earlier. i could go through a litany, i won't, of my concerns on the security side. most of them have been touched on. the russians are planning to put a hundred thousand russian soldiers into belarus on the borders of lithuania and poland and ukraine. there is serious concern about what they might do next after we've seen what they could do in ukraine with these troops on the border of this military exercise. we are concerned of the hybrid war. i hadn't heard that before, but the cyber side and the propaganda side. i guess my question, in addition to my suggestion, number one, when we commit nato forces in our allies, i would hope the
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united states would always have a complement of our uniforms and forces as part of it. it's not a negative thing in terms of their capability, but it's a demonstration, a symbol that the united states is committed to this nato alliance in every one of these deployments. the other thing i would hope is that in ukraine, the president, i said to him, him, what you need. he said the budapest agreement we gave up 1000 nuclear missiles. can you give us a thousand antitank missiles? i understood he was saying. they need that for the protection of ukraine and to stop the invasion of russians. the point i want to get to is this. that is, we have to learn what they've already experience. we have to learn what the russians have done to you which led to decisions and lithuania
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and led to a fibrous attack on estonia which crippled your economy. you been through these experiences. now we are being threatened with the same thing. we can teach you many things about the military. you can teach us about these other aspects of the hybrid war and prepare us so the next election is not another victim of russian aggression. i know you've talked about this, and i won't dwell on it any further because i know senator van hollen would like to ask questions too. i thank you all for coming. we value your friendship. we value this alliance. it is strong. it's bipartisan strong in congress. think you. >> very quickly,. >> if i can just respond to the senator did what he raised is a very important issue of the american presence in the baltic state. you correctly mentioned there would be forward presence of nato. as we speak, they are moving
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into estonia with 1200 men. : strong partnerships message and restaurants in chicago.
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>> on that note, senator blunt. i've bee been inside of your six countries a year ago when we had a reserved unit from fort leonard from a more extended period of time but following up on what senator durbin said was the question i wanted to pursue we understand the improper involvement in our elections and it's a wide belief they are currently involved in both the upcoming german and french elections but you have experience with this as well and i wondered if you want to share one at a time of some sense of what you saw through the
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manipulation that understand the improper involvement in that situation if you could share some of that with us, that would be helpful. and i wonder if we just start, mr. ambassador, with you. >> thank you mr. senator. i think one of the clear operations of influence was the cyber attack in 2007. we see those cyber hacking on a daily basis and it is continuo continuous. i think it's also important to
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point out that the media channels are trying to influence the russian speaking population in estonia and other countries. it's not specifically an issue. we have to deal with this and we have two years ago opened an estonian broadcasting company language channel to counter that propaganda. i think what we see is a love of intimidation when it comes to the security of the borders and aerospace in the violation of borders we have to deal with this as well.
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we have to deal with the support for the influence of the ngos. >> the russian influence of the ngo. >> the visit i made a year ago i think one of the two days i was there they practiced invading estonia 20 miles away from the border and it was very publicly clear that was the purpose of the exercise. anything in lithuania that you would want to talk about?
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>> i would say their archrivalss but there's like 80% support so it is not popular to go against so we see the efforts of the media outlets to put talks on the elements that would show they are looking away and a similar nature. of course in general that's the natural. it seems like a vague message so
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it's been a sixt less exploitedn lithuania. >> ambassador thomas. >> i can join my colleagues. the three directions we are facing in hybrid warfare is tvs, the major narrative [inaudible] it tells us it is economically collapsing and it's a great strategic mistake and the only way to get back is to connect to the russian economy.
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another is ngos each of them indifferent ocean foundations linked to the human rights or the european research developing another narrative pacing abuse of the human rights. a strong word in social media spreading out different fake news and trolling likely solve
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recently just when the u.s. operation atlantic started from germany the new headline appeared on different sites over 3,000 are rolling towards the russian border. that wa was spread out in these lines into social media. >> but pink is well taken there's a lot we can learn by sharing what happened here but also looking at what our friends have consistently dealt with for two decades now. thank you for letting me use a little of your time. >> that is one of the questions in this whole hearing if the ones that didn't come could put in writing because that is very
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important. senator van hollen. >> thank you mr. chairman and mr. minister and ambassador for the testimony today. it's great to be on this subcommittee and i want to join our colleagues on a bipartisan basis for the leadership and putting together this hearing because russian interference is not a democratic party issue, it's not a republican issue it is an american issue that's important to democratic countries around the world as all of you are testifying tuesday. you have had this experience over many many years with both sort of military challenges and threats but also the intimidation through various means of propaganda. propaganda invasion is new to the united states in terms of our elections. we are seeing it as senator
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blunt said in the upcoming elections in france and germany. and i would agree with your opening statement which is if we do not respond, then we will allow those actions to be encouraged if they can do this kind of interference with impunity they will do it again and again and again. so i support the legislation that would first of all require congressional consent before we pull back any sanctions and i ai would also support the legislatn that would go further. we need sanctions on a bipartisan basis because if we don't do it, we wil that, we wie encouraging this kind of interference in the elections going forward. i appreciate the testimony from all of you on the lessons learned and i look forward to getting some of the written observations from others. i would say that obviously we need to strengthen our cyber capabilities across the board.
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this is the new dimension of security warfare and i am pleased. my state of maryland is the home of the u.s. cyber command and i no estonia takes the lead of nato with respect to cybersecurity we also have a good relationship with the national guard and your efforts on behalf of nato and we look forward to strengthening those. with respect to cybersecurity, what i'd like u is very quickly for each of you to try to grade what you think the print capabilities are and whether you think this is an area where we need to put more resources and how vulnerable are we today? we know the russians are very involved everyday in trying to penetrate our systems and
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starting with you, ambassador, because of estonia's lead within nato if you could get some assessment of where you think we are. >> thank you, senator. we have the news and bad news i think. or good news and bad news. first i'd like to soak thank you for the good co-optation that estonia and maryland have enjoyed in the past 25 years especially the cooperation between estonia and the armed forces and the national guard. the 175th air wing and 21 planes 18 of them have been to estonia so this is excellent and also the cooperation with your cyber defense unit. it is developing very fast. now it is clear as you pointed out cyber is the new domain of
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warfare. nato recognized that last year during the summit, and clearly pointed out that cyber warfare is a domain of warfare. but a lot remains to be done in this area. we had to put more resources into it but we should also collectively deal with these issues on a bilateral basis between the countries but also nato which as you know estonia hosts the center of excellence and i would encourage you when you talk about the further funding of the counter in hybrid warfare to find more resources to put to that center as well
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and to have more people in the nato headquarters to deal with this issue. it will not fade away. this issue will be with us for the good part of this century i think, so we have to really put more emphasis on this. thank you. >> everyone else can in writing respond. we are running out of time. there is a protein called any minute now and there's a couple members of the subcommittee on the ways i want to make sure anybody can ask questions. i've learned and i want to make sure that i've got this right, there's been a systematic effort to undermine democracies and russia for years. does everybody agree with that statement? at the record reflect and affirmative answer. prior efforts have failed and are getting more aggressive, not less. without american leadership,
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nothing will work. affirmative answer. do we have? we have two members on the way. senator van hollen, do you want to -- continue until they come. >> this is a discussion for members of congress but i do believe as you indicated that we need to come together across party lines to respond and learn from your own experience is the kind of measures that we need to be on the lookout fo for that we also need to be very focused on what we are doing. let me ask you this. if the united states does not take any affirmative action beyond wha with president obama already did with respect to the russian interference in our
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elections, do you believe that would embolden russia to take these actions on an even larger scale in your countries and other democracies around the world? >> for the record, you can answer that but that's okay. it's a very good question bu thi want to make sure. >> i think this is important to show unity and resolve. to do that individually on a bilateral basis for the countries and also for nato and in our case the european union which is also very important organization for us. so a lot remains to be done whether we hav had to show resoe and unity otherwise what you
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described will become true. >> i've been told a vote is on so we have about seven or eight minutes probably. >> thank you for being here and your service representing the countries and your interest here in the united states. the values are strong relationships and alliances strengthening the ties can help improve the security and stability across eastern europe. many of you also represent nato allies and this has proven to be ineffective and steadfast bulwark against aggression and terrorism in eastern europe and around the world and its critical nato remain strong and continue to receive support from the u.s. particularly in light of aggression that undermines regional stability and threatens our national security. russian interference isn't limited to the security fear hee either. this information campaigns
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seeking to discredit alliances such as nato, cyber attacks or raising energy costs as a means to influence other countries that have occurred far too frequently. >> mr. ambassador we will check with threats from the kremlin do you view as the most eminent whether it is to poland, nato or the region as a whole? >> that is from kremlin. >> which threats do you view from the kremlin as most eminent, most urgent whether it is to poland, nato or the region as a whole? >> i think that it's to the whole western world the transatlantic alliance i would say both europe and the united
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states now with the cyber war going on everyday all the time and it is a thread for everyone because it doesn't depend on how far you are from the kremlin youth can be 500 miles or 5,000 miles and so you can be a dictatorship for a democracy and there are various ways of using this hybrid four and first of all cyber war so everyone is vulnerable and that is essential for our countries and our message and the united states and the countries to be unambiguous because what is the most dangerous thing i think especially as far as the war against ukraine is concerned that many messages from various countries are it's not unanimous
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or clearcuts but this is the war. this should be stated openly. there is a war against ukraine and i think there is also a cyber war against so many other countries. >> so, in light of that what would be the very best respond to these co- response to the hybrid efforts to advance the goal whether it is energy, information or cyber? >> it is both energy information and cyber i think that is first of all the cooperation on energy should be strengthened and the position for example of the european union should be unambiguous because otherwise, it's dividing the union when
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they have various opinions about the cooperation. so i think the cultivation of this region in the united states should be strengthened as far as energy is concerned and the answer today just returned from a conference on cybersecurity i think we are still not aware of how important this new kind of war is conducted today. >> cyber should be the most important cooperation. >> brought up the issue of cyber. i want to switch gears to the ambassador. as you may know or may not know in my home state of montana is one of the leading energy producing states in fact, we have more recoverable coal than any state in the united states. understanding the importance of access to reliable energy, and
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undoubtedly so do estonians. the question is how dependent is your country on russia for its energy needs and what concerns would raise? >> i think they enjoy it. it's a different situation in the region in the sense that is who we are not reliant on russian energy. the energy we use or import from russia forms about 7% of the total energy consumption. estonia is reliant on oil shale which we generate to produce electricity, so in that sense we are not really dependent on russia but there is a bigger issue here which is as long as the region is still considered
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inside of the european union, then it is not a matter of how dependent estonia is but the question really is how safe the region can be from the russian energy influencing the tools. >> with the region be more secure if the dependencies on the united states versus russia? >> the u.s. plays an important role when it comes to the export of europe which i understand the issue of licensing and this is what lithuania is looking for to get more american lng to europe and lithuania and also it's important to mention estonia experts 3% of the gas from lithuania todalithuania today s% from russia and this shows how important the connections between the countries when it
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comes to pipelines would be. >> thank you all we have a few minutes left on the vote. senator rubio is in a classified hearing he cannot make it until four-time cup of tea which is the time we have to all leave so i will make sure he can ask questions in writing. i know he's been very big on this issue. thank you all for coming it has been helpful to me and every member of the subcommittee. my goal is to inform the american people of the risks that you have being in the backyard of russia's democracy that they are coming after us, france and germany until somebody stops them and we'll try to give more tools to fight back because the safer you are the safer we will be and to all of you, thank you, it is brave for you to come here today and to our friends in ukraine, keep your chin up and i think the ambassador got it right when he did get ukraine right before
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anything else happens in every effort to stop in the past whether it be georgia, ukraine, you name it is clearly not working and my goal is to come up with something that will work. i want a better relationship with russia but that will not be achieved until they change the practice. i understand why putin is afraid of democracy. i can't understand why america and others will not defend it. i just met with president trump and i think that we will have a good ally in terms of having a rotational troop presence in a fashion that ukraine will be hoped for more, not less and we will push back against all russian aggression in iowa college workin working with himr democratic and republican colleagues to give you some hope that america is back in this subcommittee is just the beginning of what i think will be a long journey. the next hearing will be march 29 at the society
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perspective on russia and the regional influence. to all of you, thank you very much. your country is in our thoughts and prayers and i want you to see a more reliable ally in the future. thank you. the hearing is adjourned.
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