Durbin, Grassley Meet With Lithuanian Delegation To Discuss Russian Aggression Toward Baltic States
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, yesterday met with members of the Lithuanian Parliament and Lithuanian Ambassador to the U.S. Audra Plepyte to discuss President Biden’s newly announced decision to move 3,000 troops to Germany, Poland, and Romania to deter Russian aggression aimed at Ukraine and the region. The Senators heard from the Lithuanian Parliament members about recent Russian cyberattacks against the Baltic States to sow distrust in Eastern Europe against the U.S. and concerns about the nearly 130,000 Russian troops built up near the Ukrainian border.
During the meeting, the Senators also offered their support to Lithuania as the nation faces economic bullying from the Chinese government for improving diplomatic ties with Taiwan. As a result of Lithuania’s growing relationship with Taiwan, China has imposed an embargo against Lithuania and recalled its ambassador.
“This bipartisan conversation with the Lithuanian Parliamentarians was especially important following President Biden’s announcement that more U.S. troops will be deployed to Eastern Europe,” said Durbin. “Time and time again, Lithuania has proved itself to be a champion of freedom and democracy. Today, in the face of Russian aggression and Chinese economic intimidation, is no different. As Co-Chair of the Senate Baltic Freedom Caucus, I will continue to be an outspoken ally to the Lithuanian people and the nation’s Baltic neighbors as they work to uphold these values in an increasingly tense situation.”
“Lithuanians never gave up on freedom during 50 years of Soviet occupation, and the United States continued to recognize the sovereignty of all three Baltic nations during that time. During a period of renewed Russian aggression against sovereign nations, their insights are particularly valuable. Our bipartisan meeting shows that no domestic political disagreements will get in the way of keeping our promises, and sends a strong unified signal about our unwavering support for our NATO allies and the principles of self-determination in the face of Russian aggression on the Ukrainian border,” said Grassley.
A photo of the meeting can be found here.
Durbin, whose mother immigrated to the U.S. from Lithuania as a child, is a cosponsor of the Defending Ukraine Sovereignty Act of 2022, which would deepen economic and security ties with the Baltics while imposing crippling sanctions on Russia if it further invades Ukraine. Durbin also secured a minimum, first-time $150 million authorization in the FY22 NDAA in support of the Baltic Security Initiative. This week, Durbin and Grassley introduced a resolution to celebrate 100 years of diplomatic relations between the U.S. and the Baltic States, expressing explicit support for Lithuania in the face of Russian aggression and Chinese economic bullying.
In 2017, Durbin traveled to Rukla, Lithuania, to visit the U.S. and German forces stationed there as part of the European Reassurance Initiative.
Members of the Lithuanian delegation who attended the meeting include:
- Mrs. Laima Liucija Andrikien?, Chairwoman of the Foreign Relations Committee, Parliament of Lithuania Mr. Laurynas Kas?i?nas, Chairman of the National Security and Defense Committee, Parliament of Lithuania
- Mr. Giedrius Surplys, Deputy Chair of the Foreign Relations Committee, Parliament of Lithuania
- Mr. Jonas Jarutis, Deputy Speaker, Member of the National Security and Defense Committee, Parliament of Lithuania
- Mr. Evaldas Zelenka, Chief of Staff, Foreign Relations Committee, Parliament of Lithuania
- Ms. Agnija Tumkevi?, Advisor to the National Security and Defense Committee, Parliament of Lithuania
- H.E. Audra Plepyt?, Lithuanian Ambassador to the U.S.
- Mr. Gediminas Sereika, Congressional Liaison, Embassy of Lithuania
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