On June 27, the Joint Baltic American National Committee, Inc. (JBANC) visited all 100 U.S. Senate offices to deliver letters from the organization expressing support for strong transatlantic relations between the United States and its NATO allies and underscoring the vital importance that this remains a durable linchpin for our security relations.
The Summit is being held July 11-12 in Brussels and, as stated in the letter, will be "crucial for strengthening the unity and solidarity of the Alliance." United States leadership in NATO remains crucial, and security for its members, including the Baltics, have never been taken granted by Estonia, Latvia, or Lithuania, or for the Baltic-American communities which JBANC represents.
Another key point in the letter underlines that funding in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for the European Deterrence Initiative - now at $6.3 billion - is "critical for strengthening the alliance and deterring Putin’s aggression." The bill is currently being considered in Congress.
The text of the letter is below.
The Joint Baltic American National Committee, Inc. (JBANC), representing Americans of Estonian, Latvian, and Lithuanian heritage, has worked with Congress since 1961 to raise issues of interest and concern to the Baltic-American community, and to help advance U.S. policy affecting the Baltic nations.
Following the restoration of independence of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania in 1990-1991, the most important aspect of security and stability for the Baltic countries has been securing the nations into the Transatlantic sphere, including, most importantly, NATO. The Baltic-American communities worked diligently to support these efforts. Since becoming full-fledged NATO members in 2004, we have never taken their security for granted.
The next NATO Summit takes place at the new NATO Headquarters in Brussels on July 11-12. We cannot understate the importance of the Transatlantic relationship for American security and for our allies. United States leadership, strengthened by close cooperation with NATO allies, must never waver. It is the only credible deterrence.
In the shadow of recent events and the ongoing war being waged in Ukraine by the Putin regime, this upcoming Summit will be crucial to strengthening the unity and solidarity of the Alliance. The Baltic countries are doing their part. Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania are spending 2% of their GDP for defense purposes. Only a handful of allies are doing so, together with the United States. We look forward to an even greater allied - and United States - presence in the region, with increased military mobility and readiness, a more efficient command and control structure, as well as regular planning and exercising. These are key components being highlighted at this year’s summit.
Through the National Defense Authorization Act, the U.S. has provided integral military support for key programs, which help support our allies, including the Baltic countries. On June 19, the Senate passed the FY2019 NDAA. The continual increases in funding for the European Deterrence Initiative - now at $6.3 billion - are critical for strengthening the alliance and deterring Putin’s aggression. This funding request has grown each year, proving the increasing relevance of the relationship between European allies and the U.S. We support efforts to make this a part of the base budget of the Department of Defense. The U.S. can thus better prepare for the long term along with our NATO allies.
Thank you for your help in reinforcing the relationship between the United States and the Baltic countries. We look forward to working together with you for the betterment of these excellent ties.