tv Eastern European Ambassadors Testify on Russian Policies Toward Europe CSPAN March 7, 2017 2:16pm-4:15pm EST
reduce this area of vulnerability, there may be a lot of other options we could consider. >> good. what you're saying if you're getting an aspirin or something like it probably makes sense, but a controlled substance, maybe it's better if it's close at home where folks come in and they're known by the folks at the pharmacy. >> we will leave this meeting now. we are going to where ukraine and five other eastern european nations are testifying before the subcommittee about russian influence around the former soviet block. the hearing should get under way momentarily. live coverage on c-span 3.
suck committee will come to order. i want to thank senator leahy for being such a good partner in this endeavor. our meeting today is intention regarding specific european nations. one thing that have become with all these countries, they are young struggling democracies and friends of the united states. out of respect for your family, i will not pronounce any of your names. i will try to get your country
right. and you have an opportunity when you speak to tell us who you are. anyway, foreign minister from the ukraine, ambassador from poland, ambassador from georgia, ambassador from lithuania and ambassador from asetonia. i have met most of you on my travels. i can't thank you enough for coming today and sharing with the committee and really the near can people what is going on in your backyard because you live if a very difficult neighborhood. i would like to welcome to the committee senators rubio and van holland. hopefully we can do things together good for the country. and i will make a short opening statement followed by senator leahy and we will have five-minute rounds and again to each of you, thank you very much for coming. very briefly, everybody tucks about our election in 2016.
and let me tell you my views. the russians tried to interfere in our whelection. i don't believe they changed the outcome but the russians hacked into the democratic national committee. the russians compromised podesta's e-mails. in my view the russians provided information to wikileaks in an effort to interfere with our election. it is my belief we forgive and forget regarding our own election. we will invite future egression by other kun thcountries that t republican party and democratic party should be one when it is an interference and an attack on all. i want the subcommittee to unite our country, starting with the subcommittee that it is now time to push back against russia's interference in democracy at home and abroad. the goal is to find out from
these countries what it's like to live in the shadow of russia. what kind of interference they face on their daily lives and what are the efforts the tool and tool box of russia to undermine their democracies and for us to can v ra counter russia account. a soft power account. this committee has jurisdiction over foreign operations and i would like it try to convince most americans that it is in our interest to put money aside to help these emerging democracies. because at the end of the day, democracy, should be a goal of all of us simply because democracies tend not to go to war. i want to be sure we can do whatever we can within reason. money is tight, but i think it would be a good investment to have a counter russia account to put money aside and maybe a cybersecurity assistance maybe a straight assistance, whatever it is, to help you with stand this assault on your democracies by russia. that is the goal.
to understand what is going on, to do something about it. to each of you, thank you for coming to the subcommittee. i think if we can come together and produce a product, history will judge us well. senator leahy. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i'm glad you're having this hearing. i want to mention that it is always helpful to be given a phonetic pronunciation. i think the fact that we have representatives of asetonia and lithuania, lava, georgia, poland, ukraine, places that many of us have visited. i know you have.fva, georgia, poland, ukraine, places that many of us have visited. i know you have.iva, georgia, poland, ukraine, places that many of us have visited. i know you have.a, georgia, poland, ukraine, places that many of us have visited. i know you have. we know the stakes involved are are the second congressional hearing with russia since the beginning of the new administration. i suspect we will have a lot more. especially to have the representatives of the countries
that have experienced russia's military aggression and economic and political interference for many years. we understand the interference you've had. we count on ourselves facing the same kind of interference. we have learned the russian government interfered in our elections to further its own interest. and the new president said virtually nothing about it. he made no secret of his admiration for president putin. he and other white house officials have disparaged the news media. if they had been critical of putin, calling them enemy, the american news media, the enemy of the people. as someone who might expect of president putin but not of the president of the united states.
i feel we should have an independent investigation into russia's interference on election. find out exactly what happened and we can take appropriate action. but at the same time, i think we have to have hearings like chairman grant was called here so the american public would know what happened in other parts of the world and what we face. it is one things when we see our leaders attack an american media. i happen to disagree with that. but i disagree even more when nothing is said about vladimir putin's ruthless campaign to silence his critics, especially to silence the russian press. we have not heard any criticism from our president about russian's invasion of ukraine, annexation of crimea.
russian's occupation of territory. russian forces in syria. their support for the assad regime. russian efforts undermines democracy across europe. i think i want you know that not everybody in this country is praising vladimir putin. i don't. the chairman doesn't. i think supporting independence for our friends and allies, when there are under a threat or attack is in the united states national interest. i want to ensure that u.s. assistance is made available for our partners this east yern europe and the parts of the former soviet union. but it's tough seeking confrontation with russia because we recognize the importance of ensuring partners
can main pain sovereignty, provide for their people. do i believe with the president and say we should have a constructive relationship with russia rather than adversarial? yes, if that's possible. but we cannot ignore the significa significance of the russian ma lig nance towards us and our partners and maintain our own interest. that's what we have to do first. then we will talk about where to go diplomatically from there. i thank you for having this very important line-up of witnesses. i thank all of you for taking the time. >> thank you, senator leahy. we will start with the foreign minister of the ukraine. whose name is -- >> chairman, ranking member, members of the subcommittee, thank you for giving me this opportunity to testify before you today.
and of course it is great to sit here with friend in front of the subcommittee. back in 1994, still as a young diplomat, i was involved in the process of strategic nuclear development. while working on budapest memorandum, i have questioned its effectiveness and feasibility to ensure security of ukraine. still, and i have to say it, it was beyond my imagination than in 20 years one garner to, a permanent u.n. security council, will invade ukraine and occupy parts of its territory. why did it happen? here e here's the key to understand what is the root cause of russian policy and intentions towards european countries.
particularly ukraine. for putin, the call-up of the soviet union was the greatest catastrophe. from the beginning he was obsessed with restoring russian former greatest. of course it could be done in two ways. one way was to -- with rule of law and competitive market. honoring the international principles and order. but it was not the russian choice. instead, kremlin resulted to gross violations with international law in different dimensions. break in the u.n. charter and undermining control and possibly violating the inf and treaties.
and energy pressure in contradiction to wto principles. and of course blatantly violating the human race. kremlin has developed the hybrid warfare and launched it with legal annexation of crimea and it is a highly sophisticated strategy. which mixes conventional aggression with economy and economic pressure with propaganda and misinformation as well as direct interference in the internal affairs for the country. it gains peaceful countries to undermine, disrupt and descend. it is spear-headed across the globe by the dilutichannel and t seek to provoke any narrative. in real terms, this hybrid
against ukraine integrates a shocking number of russian weaponry and to occupy dounbar and crimea. it is up to 40,000 militants. it is about more than 400 tanks and 800 armored vehicles. it is up to thousand artillery systems and over 200 multiple rocket launchers. troops that occupy crimea. just a few hours ago, the russian agent of the international code of justice made completely ridiculous statement that russian-backed militants actually discovered all those weaponry being hidden in the old soil coal mines. it is a case, just today, can
anyone believe it? kremlin's word against my country over the last three years led to over 7% of ukraine being occupied, almost 10,000 of my fellow ukrainians born militari military civilians losing their life and to,000 injured. just in the last six weeks, russians launch gains against our troops and civilian population. russia recognize documents and also completed the introduction of the russian ruble has currency in occupied territory. furthermore, russia has also ordered the legal ex appropriation of the key enterprises in occupied territory.exappropriation of th
enterprises in occupied territory. this is a clear breach of the minsk disagreement. the only way to deal with russia is from a position of strength and international solidarity. and knowing yono agreement shou with russia until they deliver on their provisions and commitments. so let me thank all of you for the support with the united states has given to ukraine. in particular over the last three years in our fight against russia, and all the signals from the new year's administration give us great hope that the united states support for ukraine will continue and increased. as this 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 wider
transatlantic, so i'm asking subcommittee for explicit support in a number of areas. defensive weapons supplied by the u.s. and continued military and technical support would make a powerful statement of the kremlin and to prove significantly ukraine's ability to defendity territory against the russian army. this support has already shown its effectiveness. the brigade instruction is one of the most effective in repelling russian attacks. the units prepared by the u.s. instructors appear to be very effective on the front line. this is why we believe this kind of support and training is very important and should be continued. so i would like to ask you to support the appropriation for security assistance to ukraine
in 2017. please support funds for assistance to ukraine in the u.s. fiscal year 2017 budget and of course forthcoming 2018 budget. ukraine also needs a long-term security arrangement for global partnership on defense and security. the moment of the united states will be key to any such arrangement. of course we need u.s. support in negotiations of the budapest memorandum. the united states should play hero in negotiation and also on dunbars and crimea. there must be no easing up of sanctions if anything they should be increased.
dear senators, ukraine is on the front line and currently the only country fighting to hold off russia and ukraine does not simply ask for support. we currently spend 6.6% of our gdp on defense. at the same time it is obvious we need the u.s. and transatlantic solidarity with ukraine and ukrainian people. it's strong, stable and dell consideratic ukraine, able to defend its waters against russia expansion is a crucial ally for the united states in the regional and global. thank you. >> thank you. if you could, please keep your statements to five minutes. we will have questions where you can tell us anything on your mind but time is of the essence in your senate. 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 poland's government on russia's policing europe and the challenging originating from it. the kremlin has achieved strategical objective, restored super power status lost after the fall of communism. the way to achieve the goal seems straight forward, altering security ak architecture in europe, keeping soviet countries from integrating with the euro atlantic community. first the current situation. while pursuing foreign policy objectives, moscow largely relies on force, intimidation and economic extortions, writing to impose on other countries an autocratic and oldie gar gig. violating international law by
an exing cry tee crimea. finally, t fine although moscow signed cease-fire agreements, minsk 1 and 2 it did not withdraw the part of the region to achieve the political solution. each force we have seen more military clashes in the dunn bars.dunnbars. dunnbars.the introduction of new types of equipment was coupled with the reform of the military doctrine. the threshold for the usage of nuclear weapons has been lowered. bordering poland and lithuania became the most militarized area in europe. with anti-access military denial
capabilities. this bubble aims at limiting nato's freedom of maneuver and action on allied territory. it covers an area spanning from northeastern poland to the baltic states. moreover, collingrat has systems nuclear capable missiles able of hitting targets in estona, latvia, poland and eastern germany. moscow conducts large scale smap exercises with openly aggressive scenarios. we also observe an unprecedented number of military incidents provoked by russia. but the most alarming issue is russia's ability to take prompt and deceptive actions. we saw that in crimea. third, the hybrid dimension. the challenges posed by russia's actions go beyond the conventional military realm. we see them in the cyber informational and energy bank
domains. russia deliberately employs hybrid means to act below this threshold of military conflict. moscow often acts by exploiting national vulnerabilities and sensitivities. this might involve actions in the cyber domain. frequently backed by a fierce propaganda effort. ukraine is the case in point. while countries in central europe try to diversify their import roots, russia promotes the pipeline creating divisions among eu member states. should this project go ahead, russia could effectively hinder the diversification efforts of the whole region. increased guest supplies from russia would inevitably effect the economic viability of l & g product in central and eastern europe. fourth, our response. two words.
uncertainty and insecurity best describe the current security situation we operate in. such conditions and challenges call for an adequate answer. nato is the best platform to provide it. it is a unique force mount supplier. determining those threats requires decisions taking in warsaw in 2016. furthermore, my government believes that special meeting of heads of states and governments should be an important milestone in the process of adapting the alliances defense and deterrence posture. as challenges we face are here to stay, they enhance forward presence of allied troops on the eastern flank of the alliance should have long-term character. poland is very grateful for those actions. it will be impossible to achieve the warsaw summit decisions
without american leadership. in this context i would also like to thank you for the deployment of your troops to our region under the nato flag. a long term american commitment to the efp is absolutely essential. i would like to add that the presence of american soldiers in poland as part of atlanta resolve is of equal and paramount importance. further congressional support for the european reassurance initiative would be greatly appreciated. mr. chairman, distinguished members of the subcommittee, a burden sharing among allies is a must. poland meets spending targ it's long nato guidelines. more than 20% of our 2017 military budget will be spent on military equipment. our soldiers serve in missions in afghanistan and kosovo. poland contributes to collective
defense. the polish tank company has been deployed to lafiv under the framework of the efp. our vessel commands operating on the sea. poland has always been ready to deal with a terrorist threat. polish and american soldiers were brothers in arms during the missions in the iraq and afghanistan. all together more than 40,000 polish troops took part in both operations. now days poland is an active member of the global coalition against daesh. our efforts go beyond the military domain. last year saw the opening of an import lng terminal in poland. it could become a gateway for lng destined for client in central europe. delivering gas supplies to ukraine via poland would send powerful political message while providing business opportunities for american firms.
moscow orchestrated the in ukraine and moscow has the means to end it. moscow signed cease-fire agreements minsk 1 and minsk 2 but does not respect the provisions. moreover russia decided to recognize documents produced by so-called dunbas republics. to sum up taking into account russia actions we see no grounds to ease sanctions or to change our policy vis-a-vis moscow. congressional support for maintaining transatlantic unity and solidarity on this issue is indespencible. a couple weeks ago general james mattis sat at nato headquarters that europe and north america need to work together stronger than ever in times of turmoil and unpredictability. i firmly believe that the political and military
engagement of the u.s. is necessary for preserving peace and stability in europe. let me stress that we remain open to dialogue with russia. however, such dialogue needs to be conditional on russia, changingity current policies and its stance towards international law. thank you again for the opportunity to testify today and i look forward to taking your questions. >> thank you. and it those who stick to five minutes, your chance of assistance goes up. thank you very, very much. [ laughter ] ambassador from georgia. >> mr. chairman. ladies and gentlemen, i'm here today to remind you that before ukraine, georgia was invaded in 2008 will and 20% of our country remains under russian occupation, despite ongoing russian aggression with the supports of united states georgia made tremendous strides in strengthen democratic institutions forcing economy of development to solidify
irreversible path -- to solidify path to integration. i'm also here to tell you that we need a stronger america in georgia and the region. the conflict which started in early '90 reached its peak in 2008 with russian invasion of georgia and occupation of our territories. as international community failed to effectively respond to early warning signs, russian continues with 10,000 military security and guard personnel. the russian occupation forces have no legal mandate and are in stark violation of international law and august 12, 2008 cease-fire agreement. in 2009, russia began installing razor wire fences and other obstacles. the total length of trenches across both occupational lines is more than 62 miles.
we greatly appreciate the interest of congress and its bodies and representatives who are frequently visiting occupational line. in further violation of cease-fire agreement moscow signed so call treaties with occupational regimes. those documents present a step towards annexation of g's occupied regions as they provide foundation for fully integration into social, economic administrative and most importantly military and security institutions of the russian federation. georgia is considering reconciliation process with people in occupied territories. we make all benefits available for georgia citizens accessible for compatriots residing on other side of the line. free health care, educational, cultural, scientific, the european path. since regaining independence to
undermine georgia sovereignty integrity, georgia has been subject to different forms of unconventional warfare. russian propaganda in georgia in addition to economy ek barringo 2006 energy cuts cyberattacks in 2008, steeks challeneeks to cha aspirations. it builds on fears that exist in different society, creating myths and communicating through different forms of media. a recent example is false information that to well deserved visa-free travel decision for georgia citizens to europe came at expense of building refugee camps in georgia. the georgiian government has been effective in the communication efforts through coordinated approach, dismannedeling myths but also countering by bringing tangible results to the georgia citizens like free trade agreement,es
association agreement and liberalization. as a result, we have managed to maintain strong support to georgia's eu and nato aspiration within 70 to 75 percent. overall despite russia's vicious efforts for small nation georgia makes outsize contribution in international security efforts. locating more than 2% of our gdp for defense spendings. we are a committed partner in fight against terrorist and we are one of the largest contributors to the resolute support mission in afghanistan with one of the highest numbers of 870 servicemen. georgiian services proudly standing with shoulder to shoulder with allies in toughest parts of the world. we have made progress if building strong and effective state institutions. ensuring democracy and rule of law because we believe that our political and economic progress
will ultimately serve as a potent anti-dote to russia's expansion. for the last decade georgia is the most reliable and democratic ally of the u.s. in very tough region has been a great example of american taxpayers money wisely spent. therefore i want to invite the members and staff of this committee to visit and see firsthand the transformation of power of u.s. assistance. last year we have signed memorandum on deepening security and defense partnership between our two nations. and we successfully launched georgia defense readiness program. further improvement and elevation of our security partnership is of vital importance as we believe georgia remains an essential part of atlantic security architecture. when the cold war ended and soviet union dissolved, united states an allies sought to build europe whole, free and at peace.
today when one of the basic foundations of security and peace respectful national border violated, new transatlantic is needed to fortify and enlarge alliance. we believe a comprehensive long-term engagement strategy of new administration will include the strengthening of georgia georgia'ster toral integrity and sf rinsovereignty. including supporting democratic choice of georgiian people to integrate with euro atlantic institutions. all these measures will make georgia stronger and more resilient. that is important because stronger georgia is in the united states' interest as much as stronger america is in georgia's interest. thank you. >> thank, mr. ambassador. ambassador from latvia. >> rank chairman, ranking member, members of committee, thank you very much for inviting me to speak before this very honorable committee.s of commit
very much for inviting me to speak before this very honorable committee. latvia and u.s. have a hundred years of a very close partnership. during partnership, latvia safeguarded independence and this partnership facilitated latvia's integration back into the euro atlantic community. we have to admit today that the world has become less secure and less stable of the past decade. causes are various and geography of the threats is diverse. to continue u.s. global leadership is extremely important. to safeguard an international rules based order -- best answer for today's security risks since 2003, troops have shoulder tho shoulder stood with u.s. in fight against terrorism in iraq and afghanistan. both made sacrifices and latvia
remains committed to fighting terrorism with interglobal terrorism against isil. we can do more. we are ready to do more. in 2017 latvia will fight with the form of financial assistance. threats of the region are more complex and harder to find and pinpoint. russian actions show disturbing and worse trend that we have to recon with. what happened in ukraine, russia military buildup as well as intensive military maneuvers is proximity of nato borders like -- in 2017, this year, they are caused significant in
european security environment and challenging national security order. this has direct impact on national security of latvia, europe and nato. to respond, we need a strong nato as a source of stability and reliability. we need prosperous and resilient european union. we need osc capable of solving, not freezing, conflict. thanks to historical decision of the nato summit, on the deployment of four multinational battle groups to atlantic eastern flank including canadian-led enhanced forward group in latvia we are all more secure. and we assured. this is have to allies and strong significant fall from russia.
this is thanks to congress support for the u.s. european reassurance initiative. atlantic resolve mission and falling military financing program for which we are very grateful. taking into account the challenges of the region are a long-term nature. we are looking forward to continuation of european assurance initiative and founding level of the $3.4 billion higher like wise we have military financing, funding will be maintained at or enhanced. continuing commitment to nato is essential to preserve reversebility of the decisions. latvia appreciates a very clear and resolute statement by u.s. defense secretary james mattis of the nato and in brussels last month thus reconfirming the u.s. strong support to alliance. the meeting of the presidents of
three baultltic states and meet in u.s. in february reassured us in this respect. but there is also stepping up and pulling more weight. latvia is among the best examples when it comes to raising a nation's own defense capabilities. in case of military aggression. our own forces will be the first responders. we are defendable. in case of -- we are well aware the challenge -- we are well aware of the challenge therefore latvia spent the last two years boosting its military capacity and improving its coordination. currently we are spending 1.7% and next year, only a few months ago, we will spend 2% of gdp for our defense. join willi joining nato, a recipient and provider of security and in proportion to population of 2
million, we count among the top contributors in missions afghanistan, iraq, central african, republic of somalia. europe and u.s. should help mo and including information warfare. latvia has been active in providing support to strengthen independent -- i would like to mention two examples a practical approach and support of countries. first media excellence. recently completing study of skills and training needs to independent media in eastern partnership countries. certainly lavia is interested in the success of creative content
support fund.tvia is interested in the success of creative content support fund. that is being established with endowment for democracy and british government. this fund will strengthen the capacity of independent media to offer russia language audiences strong alternative to kremlin-controlled media. encourage u.s. support this important initiatives. in pivotal times of history, alliance proven to be effective, credible and united. solidarity here is keyword. i believe the spirit of solidarity will bring us to wise future decision. thank you very much. >> thank you. ambassador from lithuania. >> is it on? >> yes. >> ranking member leahy, thank you for the opportunity to pair
before you today to assess this threat, to our democracy to explain what lithuania is doing to counter threats and explore cooperation between lithuania and u.s. first of all, lead me name the threats we face. russia never stopped using political economical propaganda and other open and undercover tools more vulnerable it present day challenges. attack on georgia, illegal annexation on crimea and eastern ukraine are considering considerable implications and so on national security. russia is increasing capability on lithuania border. most militarized zone in europe. exercises of offensive nature on our borders taking place regularly. russia is extremely active in the information field using pro-russian media, disinformation, fake neuheisws o
confuse opinion. they spread views on this information on the insensitive topics such as migration, terrorism, ethnic relations, deployment of nato troops in eastern europe. in my written testimony you will find separations of russia against lithuania. . also the nuclear plan is under exploration in belarus. how we fight back these threats. in 2018 ledge wana will spend over 2% on gdp in defense and go beyond that benchmark in the future. the terminal independence is one of the best investments into our security. as its name suggests it ensures energy supplies and uses one of its manipulation tools. the senators using this opportunity allow me to thank
you for your personal and united states support to our security. we greatly appreciate the strengthening of the u.s. military presence in europe and implementation of deterrence initiative. the only way to achieve regional stability is to place u.s. and nato troops on baltic states on a permanent basis. it is to have military plans. when it comes to areas of defense, lithuania and united states have been engaged in close dialogue and our part we are toward moready to move forw time lines and identified financial resources on both sides. establishment on both at your defense capability and brish -- bringing attention to defense issues, close cooperation in hybrids threats is necessary.
to count threats posed by this information lithuania allows nags a project. to analyze information and pr clud possible and friendly actions. possible it to access some u.s. services and tools make the system more efficient. we need to improve quality for listeners in russia, belarus and ukraine. we should also work together in creating attractive positive narrative about western societies for radio and tv seen in the region. there is a great need to tell true facts of history to society influenced by russian propaganda. finally we need strengthen border security. with support with lithuania launching new so-called raid
system project and lithuania plans to build a situation that would integrate border at times situation pictures. u.s. experience and assistance would be greatly appreciated. once again thank you for this opportunity to tell you our part of the story today. we must really our strategic partnership and continue to be your reliable willing and hoping to work with u.s. congress very closely. thank you. i'm pleased to be on the mark first. >> thank you. that the motto for the rest of us there. you nailed it. lithuania is doing well. >> get out the checkbook. >> thank you. i'm ambassador of estona. members of the committee, thank you for the invitation to testify before the united states senate, appropriates subcommittee and related programs.
we are mindful of the role the u.s. has played in assisting us. estonia would like more than nothing to have good relations with democratic russia and have everyday operations at all levels of society. but the commitment to the core values human rights and rule of law are indespencible pillares. we shouldn't be guided by wishf wishful thinking but by real facts. we include the russia-georgia wall a war and war in raesteeastern uk. we have learned that inadequate responses to such behavior can
only feed through indiscretion. i would like to think that russian activity is not the only concern to nata's eastern flank or countries represented at this hearing but influencing all of our allies in the west. therefore it is essential not to regionalize the russian threat of eastern european countries but to clearly recognize that threat of russian submersive methods expanded far beyond the eastern flank of europe include together united states. we as neighbors to russia are just a bit more used to witnessing such behavior. upcoming elections in the netherlands, france and germany are perfect for this information warriors. the goal of the influence of activity in europe is to create tension and so confusion between european union and member states and within individual states. by doing so the kremlin hopes to influence decision-making process and steer the narrative
and outcomes towards its own interest. the annexation in crimea are larger because of successful information war that allowed russia to avoid military confrontation. it can be expected that russia will use the tactic, extensive manipulation of information to support its military goals in oord order to achieve advantage in the future as well. this morses the facts thus delaying response. the unity of the west joins action and decision to stay the course towards russia has been the strongest message in response to russian action 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 russia sees itself being in confrontational error with the west for a long time. we the west need to render sub versive access in systematic and a way within the european union
and nato but also in koord racing between the two organizations. this should be done in very practical terms. we need to share more intelligence on russia's submersive methods to decode russian hybrid method play book. we need to raise awareness of decision makers and public at large in order to limit ability to abuse open nature of our societies. we can do it by exposing our countering russia's tactics such as covered support to political parties and politicians seemingly innocent or economic leverage through murky connections. and anti-kruch anti-corruption measures should be dealt with. the constant reaction to propaganda is not enough and can sometimes even be counter effective. the quality of strategic communication capabilities and the for mailings of our own
messages needs to be improved. effective disinformation can be diminished by enhancing critical reading skills within intended audiences. best medicine against disinformation is in open and free high quality and pluralistic media environment offered in variety of voices and opinions. i firmly believe this subcommittee plays an effective role in areas i've described. fund willing f funding for information, u.s. id, national endowment for democracy to mention but a few can all contribute to resilience in europe in order to counter changes russia is trying to achieve. thank you again for the opportunity to provide you with my thoughts and i'm ready to -- i look forward to answering your questions. thank you. >> thank you all for coming and informing the subcommittee of what you face. and sort of a parade of
horribl horribles when it comes to russia. lithuania, there was a recent deployment of russian soldiers to lithuania to help train lithuanian military. i've been informed that as soon as the soldiers from germany arrived there was an allegation that one of the german soldiers had raped a lithuanian woman. are you familiar with that? >> yes. >> you may have broken them all. i don't know. >> this one. okay. yes, it didn't take long, senator. because right after germ app troops -- because of the decisions taken for deployment and germans leading battalion in lithuania, it is like the second day or next day after their arrival there was a news spread that teenage girl was raped by
allegedly a german troops. it was nonsense, cooked news and right way. the fake news are probably not all people where listening to the denouncement of it not true -- >> did it come from russia nn news? >> yes, sir, that's what we suspect. it is hard know where it comes from first but that's what we suspect. neej troo neither troops in lithuania are bad. >> have you and uptick of involvement since obama drew the red line in syria and nothing happened or has it been the same the whole time? do you know what i'm talking about? did that effect russia's involvement at all or is it all about the same? >> well, i wouldn't say there
hasn't been significant changes. but we are experiencing russian hybrid warfare already 25 years and maybe we have become more resilient but it never stopped. and certain narratives are not changing. and certain methods are still being used. and very much by journalists themselves, where the fake facts are, are emerging, i wouldn't say that it is intensity has changed in the course of last years, but it hasn't diminished as well. >> has it been constant, russia's interference in your countries, is it constant? is it on the rise? yes, chairman. constant as my colleague said. we have experienced this for the past 25 years.
i think what opened our eyes is 2007 cyberattacks against estonia. politically motivated. and even today cyber remains one of the most important sort of areas. and we really need to put more emphasis on this issue as well. both bilaterally but also nato. >> what do you think the consequences would be if our country forgave and forgot the interference in our election by russia? what kind of effect do you think that would have on russia? >> ambassador from ukraine? foreign minister? >> russia has developed a very
systemic rate on how to use all kind of unconventional warfare -- >> my question is, what would the effect be if the united states did not react regarding the interference in our election? would it embolden russia? >> there should be clear way how to react on russian interference otherwise russians are always good in exploiting weaknesses. >> mr. ambassador to poland, do you agree with that? for. >> it is difficult for me to make comments on what americans should do or should not or what would happen if americans didn't do something. but i think that in our investigations in such cases are essentially all countries and it cannot be covered. just should be investigated, every case.
>> to continue what my colleague from poland just said, as i mention in our remarks as we think that international response on invasion and occupation of georgia was insufficient, that ma might have led to the further migration of russian confederation of ukraine et cetera, i think that international response is generally necessary in violation of international laws. >> thank you. you will have a chance to tell subcommittee specifically what we could do to help you regarding russia on the soft power side. senator l senator leahy? >> thank you. this has been very instructive. minister, under 2014 after
russia's annexation of crimea, the united states has supported ukrainian government against pro russia and separatists. during the past campaign, mr. trump said during the campaign he might withdraw u.s. support possibly as a deal with vladimir putin. and said it would look into russia 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? >> no.
i just met with secretary tillerson a couple hours ago and it was strong support for ukraine and any kind of trade-offs are not possible. and our president had true phone conversation with president trump. it was the same message. >> did they say anything about crimea? >> no compromise about crimea. and crimea is the issue about troops and international law. >> how important is our aid to ukraine? >> the u.s. support and u.s. assistance, both security related assistance and reform-related assistance was and is fundamental for ukraine. in the stand of our ability to count of the russian aggression and in the sense of us creating democratic and european ukraine. >> thank you.
>> ambassador, your country, country of poland, is uniquely positioned and unfortunately over the years have you always been uniquely positioned geographically between the conflict between russia and ukraine. but it also has broader eu and nato interests. now russia's deployment and nuclear capable missiles to olgringrad that gives complications for you, does it not? >> the missiles in owe lin grad is for our security and i think it was a kind of break through moment. becausegrad
is for our security and i think it was a kind of break through moment. because it strengthens this feeling of insecurity and uncertainty and is not only about poland. it is about flexibility of nato in this region and it is about, also about the baltic countries and other countries. so this area, this co-lingrant area is a sensitive area. and the most militarized area in the whole of europe, i think. >> are you getting -- do you get support from nato or do you feel that nato support is strong? >> yes. we feel enormous support both from nato and bilaterally from the united states. so i think that the whole -- the whole project of deployment and detrance implemented right now
and we understand still support it fully by the united states is essential for our security and very important. >> i look at all of the areas and the baltic areas, latvia, lithuania, estonia and so on. do you feel any greater or less concern about a russian invasion since the elections here in the united states? anybody want to start with that? i think we are all concerned since -- well since 2014 or even before since 2008, since georgia or ukraine, we are all concerned
because we see that international rules based order is being challenged. that's a concern for a whole in europe a europe and whole in nato. it is indivisibility of nato territory. and which part of nato can be challenged. it is a challenge for the whole nato. and in this sense, the assure uns of nato presence of nato battalions, international battalions on baltic soil and reassurance by u.s. in particular that gives a strong sense, a strong response, that anybody who want to challenge nato as strongest military organization and only response we can expect from nato, and that's response that is understandable for everybody.
and that gives us, as smaull nations, good sense about our security and sovereignty and stability for the future. >> does anybody disagree with that? do you all agree with the ambassador? thank you. >> i may add, senator, i think what we have seen in the past two and half years, two nato summits, wales in 2014 and warsaw last year, made very important decisions. and it is important to implement those decisions and we don't see any change in direction in that sense. this is my answer to a question that if there is change of direction after the elections in the united states, no, we don't see that happening. thank you. >> thank you very much. thank you, mr. chairman. >> senator moran? >> thank you very much. mr. minister and ambassadors,
thank you for joining us. as we make decisions about spending taxes of american taxpayers, what would you highlight for me as priorities we have in the financial aid that we provide your countries. is there a consensus? i'm happy to have one or a few of you respond to that in the cons census of what is the highest priority. census of wha highest priority.census of whatt priority. ambassador? >> if i may, the programs mentioned today, it says that european assurance -- the detrance initiative that ordered and started and financing is assured partly. we hope very much that this program will be financed fully and maybe even higher.we hope v program will be financed fully and maybe even higher. as well as financing by baltic states is a crucial point in improving our resilience,
capabilities, and third i would mention is programs devoted to or counter hybrid warfare and this could be in different shapes. whether strengthening of free media, independent media or contouring propaganda or hybrid attacks, all of these programs are doing very relevant work to increase resilience. >> does anyone wish to add or detract? subtract? minister? >> the case of ukraine is probably a bit different one. but in our case, it is definitely about upgrading ukraine defense and security secretarier to nato standards. about control. about training. and it is two-way world because we understand now that stance of
hybrid warfare and it is about exchange and weapon supplies. especially defensive weapon supplies. >> let me ask if any of you have other thoughts if you get that to the committee, i want to ask a couple more questions. if you would answer that question in writing, i would appreciate it. there is some eu members that are chafing at the continued imposition of sanctions against russia. in your estimation, what do we do to keep eu unified in support for sanctions and how significant is it that united states continue its sanctions in that effort? >> as long as we keep to the principle of minsk agreements, there will be unit. and on both sides of the atlantic. in the european union and united states. this is a very clear message we
should send to russia that minsk is the basic fundamental agreement that has to be fulfilled by all parties. and as long as this is done, as long as this is not done, sanctions should continue. >> can you find me any -- as long as u.s. is strong on sanctions, and we understand they have the strongest tool we have in our tool box, so that will unite europe also. >> u.s. leadership, if i can paraphrase, u.s. leadership matters in this regard. >> yes. >> thank you. >> let me ask a question about energy. there is a rand corporation study that indicates estonia, latvia, lithuania and poland are the most vulnerable to a problem with energy if russia would take certain actions. and yet there's a 2014 european
commission study that says that there are cooperative measures among the eu that could significantly reduce the impact of any short term cut-off of supplies of energy. are those measures in place, the things that are thought that could reduce the implications of energy cut-off. is eu taking the steps necessary to mitigate the damage? >> i would say that building -- it changes the situation quite substantially. lithuania and baltics we believe we are buildinglingages between l lithuania and estonia. so we can get gas from anywhere. what i do expect to see in the future. so it is no longer possible for russia to, you know, blackmail us on the gas.
on lek trelectricity we have bo project. it is quite intricate project. but that is last straw in our dependence. that will make us self sufficient in this regard. i believe for other countries it could be different. >> g aeorgia and poland? >> thank you. let me combine with your first question with georgia as provider of diversified roads for energy supplies for europe which is not dependent on russia. we have two pipe lines. one is under construction. and the importance of strengthening stability in georgia is one of the pathways to supplying the alternative energy sources for the europe is critical and therefore one of the main attentions from the
united states we expect in the energy sector. thank you. >> thank you. >> i believe in poland is just be based on mutual benefits. so should be beneficial for those countries who cooperate like the united states and countries of central europe. so this lng terminal mentioned by my lithuanian colleague is important diversification. there is a project in process of baltic pipeline with denmark and norway. and of course a very, very important issue of forced by russia and this is, you know, a project which divides european union partners. because of course, now it's
suspended for some time. but this is actually, you know, interesting that as far as energy is concerned, you european union should also be energy union. this is an idea very much, very much advertised by poland that you know, the european union if it is not an energy union, there is no union. so we really, you know, think about diversification and cooperation with united states is especially as far as lng is concerned is very important for central europe. >> senator coons? >> thank you, mr. chairman. i want to specifically thank you, a chairman graham as well as ranking member lachey for convening this hearing and assembly these important ambassadors and foreign mipstnir from vital allies of ours and a bipartisan away to confront russian aggression together. i'm encouraged by your call to
create a counter russian account specifically to strengthen our democracies. this week is the 150th creation of this committee in the united states senate. something that showed i think the wisdom of founders in recognizing that having a strong hand for the senate in the shaping of our investment overseas was something that has enduring relevance. i joined my colleague on this subcommittee, senator marco rubio florida last week in a bipartisan speech on the floor of congress about the importance of countering russian aggression. we reviewed many of the issues based on trips we had taken to your various countries, to hear from you directly about hybrid warfare, illegal and inappropriate invasion in ukraine and importance of our standing in solidarity with our allies in poland and baltic states. the real challenge is that georgia faced since it was the face of you to be illegally
invaded and to have some of its territory occupied in an ongoing disruptive way. i wanted to mention two bills in the senate that garnered bipartisan support by those who have concern about the absence of bipartisanship here. the hostilities act has ten republicans and ten democrats co-sponsoring it. it would make russia pay the price for wiillegal annexation . and their meddling in our own american elections last november. the russian review act would make certain that congress has to weigh in before sanctions against russia could be waived. i'm proud to be a could sponsor as are many on this subcommittee, of these bills. we continue to believe that transatlantic alliance is labsly essential. a force of stability in the world. to maintain the world order we work together to build over the last seven decades. let me ask a few questions.
there a rumor proposal to cut by as much as 37%. our state department and usid are essential for a lot of what we have been talking about. what would the absence of american leadership mean for your countries? would you feel safer with russia if we cut back like radio for europe and radio for liberty, and programs that support your resilience in terms of your democracy institutions and sustainment of some of the development initiatives? would any of you care to speak it that question? please, mr.es abouter. >> senator coons, i think this is just a rhetorical questions. >> yes. >> we will not feel safer when the budge the for such projects will be essentially cut. so we hope that it is just kind of deliberation kind of, you know, tweeting and not really a
decision. we hope it can be changed and people who think this way can change their minds. american leadership in this region is essential and you know this very well. that there is great support for american leadership in this part of europe maybe more in other parts of europe. so we really rely as parts of the region on firm american leadership. and support. >> i heard in several visits by my colleagues and a visit i took last august about the importance of strengthening our investment in countering russia, sputnik and other propaganda outlet, the broadcasting from latvia, both for voice of america for you'eu
and libber fip y and liberty. yes, my vision is not very great. that's tiny print. and how we might strengthen and expand our mission in propaganda operations that would be more effe effective. >> to give short times to probably we are less concerned in latvia about russia today, because russia today is, programs of russia today are broadcast broadcasted in english while russia has all of the opportunities to broker in russian, their major tv channels and the democratic country is not putting any barriers to free speech. to free broadcasting. at the same time we are aware about content of these programs and what is essential is to give
alternative to reliable sources and alternative of broadcasting in russian to be there'sable but to be objective, reliable and difference from those major tv channels broadcast from russia. >> one last question, mr. chairman, just to the ambassador from georgia, i understand that opec has helped make possible significant programs in georgia over the last 20 years. in modernizing industry and agriculture. can you comment at all on the value of opec and make beneficial programs if georgia. >> there are several aprograms that has implemented in georgia, which is really productive, not only for developing georgia, modernizing its economy
potential, but is also beneficial for both sides and therefore in that way i can provide more detailed information. >> thank you. >> thank you, senator bozeman? >> thank you, mr. chairman. prime minister, you you talked about russian territory occupied in georgia, can you talk about the recent closing of two of these crossing points and the georgiian -- >> thank you for that question. very recently, just two days ago, russia controlled forces in the occupied region closed two
checkpoints. that is effecting free movement of people. that is effecting free movement of school children over the occupational line. and we are really appreciating, very strong statement that the state department made. and the niinitiation two weeks o about the authorities to hold referendum about renaming this region into the one associated with one of the russia's autonomous republics. and we also appreciate very strong statement that was made by the u.s. department of state with this regard. this kind of developments continue, but we believe in peaceful resolution of this problem.
we believe in the discussion where u.s. authorities are actively contributing. thank you. >> you are pleased with the american response then in regard -- >> there was a strong statement just yesterday made by the state department about the closure of the two checkpoints. with explaining what kind of humanitarian difficulties it will create for those people residing to the occupational life. >> let me ask all of you or whoever 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? so what's working? what programs to you like the most? and how can we make them better? yes, sir? >> thank you very much. we really appreciate, we are
celebrating 25 years of our diplomatic relations this year. and we believe that the u.s. assistance during these 25 years were essential for the survival, for transformation that georgia has been through, for creating democratic institution, solidifying civil society, and making new opportunities for our people. these are the assistance that comes through usaid, through umf, for supporting resilience when it comes to defense and security cooperation and supporting georgia and democracy and when it comes to u.s. aid support. we believe there is a space for more cooperation on trade, economy and investment direction as we believe security is coming through economic means. >> thank you. >> yes, sir? >> i would say that support that you give to radio for europe and
radio liberty in delivering their content and strengthening capacity to reach longer distans that will matter a lot. so that's the most important. myself, i'm still old enough to remember the soviet times when my father was listening, i was a kid that time, my father listening to radio for europe. i know what this was, eagerly sought every evening. people in lithuania sitting by the radio and listening. it was a word of freedom. more word of freedom to spread through the region the more secure region will be. that will destroy monopoly on news. >> so you like the content. but stronger broadcast? >> yes. >> very good. yes, sir. >> thank you, senator. i would emphasize that in estonia case, the most efficient funding has come through foreign
military fund and also eri, european reassurance initiative. so most of the american taxpayers' money has gone to the capabilities but also infrastructure buildup. we have received about $75 million u.s. dollars from eri funding in recent two years. and we have spent that money on infrastructure but also on capability development on anti-tank weapons. also if enough money which is important and hopefully increased in coming years, goes to the very important capability development. thank you. >> thank you, mr. chairman. >> sorry, very quickly. >> if i could add to what my estonia quality said, european
reassurance initiative is very important for us and we would like to thank you for this great increasing this program from $1 is billion to $3 billion. it is very essential. also what my colleagues mentioned as well, in all kinds of exchange of people, all kind of programs, we, you know, we do not -- we do need radio for europe on such projects but not so such extent as it was mr. communism now people can move, visit each other's countries. so i think that support for program like food bright and all exchange programs is very important. just people going both way answers learning about each others. i think support of mer can citizens and taxpayers it is very important that taxpayers see our countries and see them from thanks to exchange
programs. which i think are now underestimated. their role is underestimated. >> thank you. >> i would like to give my support of what has been said for eri and military financing and about our own national contribution and investment programs that really gives a very focused strengthening of all of the capabilities. thank you. >> thank you very much, mr. chairman. thank you for being here. each of you is welcome to come back it or visit chicago which i'm honored to represent, where you will find many people from your homeland and very great restaurants. estonia, not so sure. but for rest, i guarantee you. it would be well worth the visit. three weeks ago we had our first visit. i decided to visit warsaw and kiev, for the very reason we are meeting today.
i knew there was anxiety and concern about future of nato and future relationships between united states and your countries. it was good visit. there were many things i came home with. having met with president porshanko. and meeting with those from poland and many other countries. but i remember one dmt in particular from four days in travel. the man works for the polaski foundation. he asked me a question which goes to the point by the opening of the chairman. he said we were wondering, if the united states does not take the russian invasion into your election seriously, will you take the russian invasion into poland seriously. i thought about that question and thought about it ever since. i want it salute the chairman here, who has been one of the few willing to step up and speak out about how this outrage of
the cyberattack by the russians into the american election should not go unnoticed and should not responded to. it is a starting point to our 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 a security side and most of them have been turnouched on here. whether it is the ka lienin grad, the zop pod, which russians plan to put thousands of soldiers on the border of lithuania and poland and ukraine. and there is serious concern about what they might do next after we have seen what they've done in ukraine. what they could do with troops on the border for the so-called military exercise. we are concerned about the hybrid war. i hadn't heard that term before but i heard it throughout my visit. hybrid war. not just the military side of it but the cyber side and prop
beg propaganda side. i guess my suggesting, number one, when we commit nato forces and allies, germany, lithuania, and i believe latvia and canada into estonia, i would hope the united states would always have a compliment of our uniforms and forces as part of it. it is an negative thing in terms of their capability. but a demonstration, the symbol that united states is committed to this nate why alliance in every one of these deployments. the other thing i would hope is that in ukraine your president i said to him what do you need? he said, the budapest agreement we gave up a you this nuclear missiles. can you give us a thousand anti-tank missiles? i understand what he was saying. they need that for the protection of ukraine and stop incursion of the russians into the rest of your country. but the point to get to in
close, we have to learn what they've already experienced. we have to learn what russians have done to you which led to decisions in lithuania to suspend rt for a number of months which led at some point to cyberattack on estonia which crippled your economy. you've been through the experiences. now we are threatened with the same thing. we can teach you many things about the military. can you teach us other things about the aspect of the hybrid war and prepar repare us so the next election san victim of russian aggression. i know have you talked about this and i won't talk about it any further because i know senator van holland would like to ask questions too. i thank you for your alliance. it is strong. bipartisan strong in congress. thank you. >> very quickly. >> if we could just respond to senator duringian, what he
raised is the american two presence in the baltic states. you mentioned there would be enforced forward presence of nato. as we speak, they are moving into estonia with a 1,200 men. there will be full operation capability of these forces by june this year. but what i want to emphasize here and you pointed out is that the american presence in the baltic states should remain. and we have a company sized unit in each country right now and we would like to see them being em bed ne embedded into the battalion. >> i just wanted to thank senator durban for visits to those important capitals he mentioned. those visits are very important. it is a part of showing our partnership to the world that we are strong together and so it is
very important and i very encourage and thankful to all senators visiting our countries to send a strong partnership message we are getting. and there are plenty of lithuanian restaurants in chicago. >> on that note, senator blunt? >> thank one chairman. and i've been in five of your six countries. i was in estonia a year ago in september when we had a reserve a-10 unit there from missouri and they were back again for even a more extended period of time. this year. but following up on what senator du durban said is the question i wanted to pursue anyway. we clearly understand russian improper involvement in our elections. a wide belief they are currently involved in both the upcoming german and upcoming french
elections. but you all have experience with this as well. i wondered if you would want to share maybe one at a time some sense of what you saw through rt or through manipulation of your infrastructure in ways where you feel like the russians were improperly involved or everybody maybe in a couple cases understands improper involvement in your elections situation. if you could share some of that with us, that would be helpful. and i'm wondering if we just start maybe mr. marmei, ambassador marmei with you. >> thank you. if we start with one of the operations of influence that i mentioned earlier is the
cyberattack in 2007. we see those cyber hackings on a daily basis. it is continuous. i think it's also important to point out that their kremlin-facted russian language tv and media channels are trying to inflew enthe russian speaking population in estonia and in other countries. it's not specifically estonian issue. it is everywhere else. we have to really deal with this. we have two years ago opened an estonian broadcasting company, russian language channel to counter that propaganda. i think what we see is also a lot of intimidation when it
comes to the security of our borders, airspace, the violation of air and maritime borders. we today deal with to deal with well. we have to deal with the support of -- or the influence of the ngos in our countries, as well, and also academia. >> that would be russian influence on the ngos. >> yes. >> i'm going to run out of time here. i will say the visit that i made there a year ago, i think 1 of the 2 days that i was there with our a-10 pilots, the russians were practicing invading estonia 20 miles away from the estonian border and it was very publicly clear that that was the purpose of that exercise. mr. kriskunis? >> i would say, senator, that of
course it is difficult to influence election in lithuania probably for russian propaganda, even though i would say there probably clearly are trials but because in lithuania there is almost 80% support of eu membership and nato. it is not popular now to go against those topics which russia would like to destroy. what we see, we see the efforts by some media outlets to put doubt on nato relevance. to cook the fake news which would show to lithuanian public that the americans are not with you, they are looking the other way and things like that. so the fake news of similar nature would be the ones which are being cooked in lithuania, trying to cast the doubt in general of the people believe in the government, people believe in nato. nato, let's be neutral.
let's be neutral. seems like it's very weak message. it is not like against nato, why we not neutral? we are not militaristic nation. that's kind of news which are being probably most exploited in lithuania. >> ambassador? >> well, i can join the assessment of my colleagues. to swing directions we are facing when we see hybrid warfare. one is russian tvs. tv channels that are broadcasting in russian and the major narrative probably linked to not only the baltic states but also european union and this narrative tells about european union is economically collapsing and that was a great strategic mistake by baltic states to have joined to european union. and the only way how to get back to prosperity and welfare is to
come back to russia. and through russian economy get to high welfare. another way is financing of ngos. well, the purses in ngos are not so numerous and each of them are working in several ngos financed by different kind of russian foundations and having, well, very nice names linked to protection of human rights or european research or -- whatever. and they are pretending to be fighting for the rights of russian speakers. and, well, allegedly developing another narrative that russian speakers in, for instance, latvia are abused and facing massive abuse of their human rights. probably the third i would mention is rather strong work in
social media as printing out different fake news, trolling, well, like we saw quite recently -- well, that's another indication probably whether the news is important for this warfare. just when operation atlantic resolve started and u.s. troops had started its move to poland from germ in i. well, the new headline appeared on different sites, websites, that over 3,000 tanks are rolling -- nato tanks rolling towards russian border. well, that was printed out in news lines and social media. >> thank you. i think the point, chairman, here is well-taken that there's a lot we can learn by sharing what we learn from 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 extra time. >> i think that's one of the central questions of this whole hearing. the ones who didn't comment could put in writing examples of interference in your election system. because that's very important. senator van hollen. >> thank you, mr. chairman. and thank you, mr. minister, and ambassadors, for your testimony today. mr. chairman, it is great to be on this subcommittee and i want to join our colleagues on a bipartisan basis by thanking you for your leadership in general, for putting together this hearing. because russian interference in our elections is not a democratic party issue. it is not a republican issue. it's an american issue. in fact, it is an issue obviously important to democratic countries around the world as all of you are testifying to today. you have had this experience over many, many years with both the sort of military challenges and threats but also the intimidation through various
means of propaganda. the propaganda invasion is a little bit new to the united states in terms of our elections. we are seeing it, as senator blunt said, in the upcoming elections in france and germany. mr. chairman, i would agree with your opening statement which is that 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 roll back any sanctions. and i also support the legislation that would go further. i think we need to now impose sanctions on a bipartisan basis to send the signal you are talking about. because if we don't do it, we're simply going to be encouraging this kind of interference in elections going forward. and i appreciate the testimony from all of you as to the
lessons learned and 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. i mean this is the new dimension of security, of warfare, and i am pleased -- my state of maryland is the home of the u.s. cyber command. and i know estonia takes the lead with nato with regard to cyber security. we also have a good relationship between maryland national guard and your efforts on behalf of nato and look forward to strengthening those ties. with respect to cyber security, what i would like just very quickly for sort of each of you to try and grade what you think is our current capabilities 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 every day in trying to penetrate our systems and i would, starting with you, ambassador, because of estonia's lead within nato, if you could give us some assessment of where you think we are. >> thank you, senator. we have good news and bad news, i think. or bad news and good news. first of all, i would like to also thank you for the really good cooperation estonia and maryland have enjoyed in the past 25 years, especially the cooperation between estonian armed forces and your national guard. your 175th air wing has been to estonia. you have 21 planes there, 18 of those have been to estonia. so this is excellent. and also the cooperation with
your cyber defense unit there is developing very fast. now, it's clear, as you pointed out, that cyber is the new domain of warfare. what is good is that nato really recognize that last year and during the summit and clearly pointed out that cyber warfare is the fourth domain of warfare. but a lot remains to be done in this area. we have to be -- all our countries individually have to put more resources into that, but we should also collectively deal with these issues. also on a bilateral basis between countries but also with nato which as you know, estonia hosts the nato cyber center of excellence. i would encourage you when you talk about the further funding
of the countering hybrid warfare to put more resources to put to that be center as well and to have more people in nato headquarters also to deal with this issue. it will not fade away. it will -- this issue will be with us for the good part of this century, i think. so we have to really put more emphasis in this. thank you. >> everyone else in writing because we are running out of time. there's a vote being called any minute now. i want to make sure everybody who can can ask questions. very briefly, what have i learned and make sure i got this right. there's been a systematic effort to undermine democracies in your country for years.
let the record reflect an affirmative answer. prior efforts to deter russia have failed. they're getting more aggressive, not less. affirmative answer. without american leadership, nothing will work. affirmative answer. all right. who do we have? we have two members on the way. senator van hollen, if you want to continue until they come. >> well, mr. chairman, look. i think -- this is discussion for members of congress. i do believe that as you have indicated we need to come together across party lines to respond and we need to learn from your own experiences the kind of measures that we need to be on the one lookout for, but we also need to be very focused on what we're doing. let me ask you this. if the united states does not
take any affirmative action beyond what president obama already did with respect to the russian interference in our 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, because -- that's a very good question but i want to make sure everybody can ask questions. >> i think this is very important to show unity and resolve. to do it individual ly on a bilateral basis between our countries but also through nato
and in our case in european union which is also very important organization for us. so a lot remains to be done. but we have to show resolve and unity. otherwise, what you describe will become true. >> senator danes. i've been told the vote is on so we have about seven or eight minutes probably. >> thank you, mr. chairman. welcome. thank you for being here. and your service and representing your respective countries and your interest here in the united states. the united states values our strong relationships and our alliances and strengthening these ties can help improve the stability and certainly security across eastern europe. many of you represent nato allies. this alliance has proven to be an effective and steadfast bulwark against aggression and terrorism around europe. it is critical nato remain strong and continues to receive robust support from the u.s.
particularly in light of ongoing russian aggression that undermines regional stability and threatens our national security. russian interference isn't limited to the security fear either. disinformation campaigns seeking to discredit alliances such as nato, cyber attacks, or substantially raising energy costs as a means to influence other countries have occurred far too frequently. mr. ambassador, what threats from the kremlin do you view as the most imminent, whether it's to poland, nato or the region as a whole? >> threats from kremlin? which threats i -- >> yeah. which threats do you view from the kremlin as most imminent, most urgent? whether it's to poland, to nato,
or the region as a whole? >> i think it is to the whole western world or transatlantic alliance, i would say, both europe and the united states. now during the cyber war is going on every day, all the time. and it is a threat for everyone because it doesn't depend on how far you are from kremlin. you know, you can be 500 miles, you can be 5,000 miles, and so you can be a dictatorship or democracy. you know, there are various ways of using this hybrid war and, first of all, cyber war. so i think that's -- everyone is vulnerable, and what is essential for our countries to be in our message for nato and the united states and our 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. it's not uni vocal, it is not clear cut that this is the war. i think that this should be stated openly, not that there is crimea, there is -- no, there is a war against ukraine. i think there is also a war, a cyber war, against so many other countries. >> so in light of that, what, in your view, would be the very best and most effective response to putin's hybrid efforts to advance his goals, whether it's energy, informational, or cyber? >> well, it's both energy and information and cyber. py thi i think that's, first of all, the cooperation on energy should be strengthened and the position, for example, of the
european union again should be inambiguo unam bic with us because otherwise it is dividing the european union when other countries have divisions about energy cooperation. i think the cooperation of this region with the united states should be strengthened as far as energy is concerned. i think that until today -- i just returned from a conference on cyber security organized by poland, slovakia, czech republic and hungary. i think that we are still not aware how important this new kind of war is conducted today. so i think cyber should be the most important and most essential way of cooperation. >> you brought up the issue of energy, as well as cyber. i want to switch gears here, ambassador. as you know -- or may not know -- my home state of montana is one of the leading energy
producing states in the united states. in fact, we have more recoverable coal than any state in the united states. montanans understand the importance to the access to reliable and unsourceable energy. ironically, so do estonians. how reliable are you on rsh fus for your country's energy needs and what concerns does this raise? >> i think estonia enjoys a rather different situation in the region in that sense that we are not reliant on russian energy. only energy that we use or import from russia is gas, but it only 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 that as long as the region, the baltic region, is still considered as an energy island inside the european union, then it is not a matter of how dependent estonia is, but the question really is how safe the whole region can be from the russian energy influence and tools. >> would the region be more secure in that dependence was on the united states versus russia? >> well, the u.s. plays a very important role here, especially when it comes to the lng and the exports to europe which is, i understand, the issue of licensing and this is clearly what lithuania is looking forward, to get more american lng to europe, to lithuania. also, it is important to mention that estonia actually exports
30% of our gas from lithuania today. so it is only 8% from russia. and this shows how important the connections between these countries when it comes to pipelines and power grids is. >> thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you all. we have just a few minutes left on the vote. senator rubio is in a classified intel committee hearing and he cannot make it by 4:15 which is the time we have to all leave. so i'll make sure he can ask you questions in writing. i know he's been very, very good on this issue. to all of you, thanks for coming. i think this has been eye-opening. at least to me, and i'm legislature to every member of the subcommittee. my goal is to inform american people of the risks that you have being in the backyard of russia as a democracy, that they're coming after us, france and germany until somebody stops them. we're going to give tu if the tools you need in your tool box to fight back because the safer you are, the safer we all will
be. thank you all very much. you've been very brave to come here today. to our friends in the ukraine, keep your chin up. i think the ambassador from poland got it right. we need to get ukraine right before anything else will happen. every effort to stop russia in the past, whether georgia, the ukraine, you name it, is clearly not working. my goal is to come up with something that will work. i want a better relationship with russia but that never will be achieved until russia changes its practice of trying to grind democracy into the ground. i can understand why putin's afraid of democracy. i can't understand why america and others will not defend it. i just met president trump. i think you'll have a good ally in president trump in terms of having a rotational troop presence in a permanent fashion, that the ukraine will be helped more, not less, and that we will push back against all russian aggression. i look forward to working with him and my democratic and
republican colleagues to give you some hope in the region that america's back and that this subcommittee is just the beginning of what i think will be a long journey. our next hearing will be march 29th. we'll look at civil society's perspective on russia and russia's regional influence. to all of you, thank you very much. your country is in our thoughts and prayers and i want you to see in america a more reliable ally in the future. thank you. hearing is adjourned.
supreme court nominee neil gorsuch's confirmation hearing will start on march 20th in the senate judiciary committee. it is expected to last three or four days. judge gorsuch testified on march 21st and outside experts will also appear. live on the c-span networks. last night house republicans released their health care law replacement plan. what they call the american health care act. the plan would allow children to stay on their parents' insurance until age 26. the same as the current law. the gop proposal would replace subsidies with tax credits and covers pre-existing conditions, the same as now. the plan does not penalize those
without insurance but allows insurance companies to impose a 30% surcharge for people with gaps in their coverage. you can read the gop proposal on our website, c-span.org. house speaker paul ryan, along with ways and means committee chairman kevin brady, and energy and commerce committee chair greg walled wal. live coverage of the hearing is expected to last all day and into the evening. read the 123-page proposal on our website. we've linked to it at c-span.org. next, the future of north american trade under the trump administration. we'll watch as much of this discussion from the atlantic council as we