Washington, DC (JBANC) – The Central and East European Coalition (CEEC) held a timely policy seminar on September 27 on Capitol Hill on the topic of “Russia on NATO’s Doorstep: The West’s Response to the Kremlin’s Wargames.” The purpose was to examine the execution, outcomes, and aftermath of Russia’s large-scale “Zapad 2017” military exercise which was held September 14-20 largely in Belarus, Kaliningrad, and other northwestern border areas of the Russian Federation.

The speakers included Kurt Volker, the Special Representative for Ukraine Negotiations, Stephen Blank, Senior Fellow for Russia at the American Foreign Policy Council Senior Fellow, Eitvydas Bajarunas, Ambassador-at-Large for Hybrid Threats at the Lithuanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and Alex Tiersky, Global Security and Political-Military Affairs Advisor at the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (U.S. Helsinki Commission).

The CEEC expressed its concerns about the drills, seen as provocative, excessive, non-transparent and adding to fears about Moscow’s intentions towards its neighbors. Following large-scale military drills in years past, Russia used the exercises to mass their forces prior to invasions of Georgia, and Ukraine, and have staged simulated attacks and nuclear strikes directed against Poland, and Sweden.

Close to 60 guests attended the forum, including activists from CEE communities, and representatives from congressional offices, embassies, think tanks, and media outlets. Karin Shuey, Washington DC Director for the Estonian American National Council (EANC) gave opening remarks on behalf of the CEEC, and Mamuka Tsereteli from the Georgian Association in the USA moderated the event.

In 2017, the CEEC held two congressional policy events on the Hill in 2017 on the topic of NATO’s relationship with Russia, and also on Russia’s Information War against the West. It has recently, as in years past, published a policy paper which is available on the CEEC website.

Photo credit: JBANC, Inc

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