Durbin, Grassley Introduce Legislation To Strengthen Security Cooperation With The Baltics As Putin Continues His Unprovoked War

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) and U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Co-Chairs of the Senate Baltic Freedom Caucus, introduced the Baltic Security Initiative Act, bipartisan and bicameral legislation to effectively codify the Baltic Security Initiative, which will enhance and strengthen U.S. security cooperation with the Baltics amid Russia’s unprovoked war in Ukraine and heightened tensions with China.  U.S. Representatives Don Bacon (R-NE-02) and Ruben Gallego (D-AZ-03) introduced companion legislation in the House. 

“Not only do I have strong personal ties to the region, but the Baltic countries are essential NATO partners in upholding democratic values abroad,” said Durbin.  “Our bill deters Russia from extending Putin’s war into NATO territory, strengthens our partnerships with the Baltics, and enhances their capabilities as critical allies on NATO’s eastern flank.  I remain steadfast in my support for the Baltic States as they work to combat Russian aggression as well as Chinese economic pressure.”

“The three Baltic countries are steadfast NATO allies who stand resolutely on the side of freedom, having experienced the alternative in living memory.  They have gone above and beyond in helping Ukraine fight back against Putin’s war and are among America’s closest friends in Europe.  We ought to be working to strengthen the ability of our frontline allies to defend themselves and deter potential aggression.  Our bill will make sure that’s the case,” said Grassley. 

In the Fiscal Year 2023 (FY23) omnibus appropriations bill, Durbin secured $225 million to fund the Baltic Security Initiative along with $153 million for security cooperation programs, with a particular focus on European allies in light of Russia’s aggression. 

In 2022, Durbin traveled to Vilnius, Lithuania, where he received the Aleksandras Stulginskis Star Awardonly the second individual and first American to receive this award.  It was granted to Durbin for his decades-long support of Lithuanian independence and democracy and his promotion of parliamentary values.    

Along with Durbin and Grassley, the legislation is cosponsored by Senators Angus King (I-ME), Bill Cassidy (R-LA), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Bob Casey (D-PA), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), and Jacky Rosen (D-NV).