On August 11, Joe Biden announced his pick for a Vice President – Kamala Harris, the U.S. Senator from California. And just last week, they both received a mandate from the Democratic National Convention. During the democratic primaries process, we looked at the candidates and their positions towards the Baltic countries. Recently, we also reported on where different VP candidates stand on the foreign policy and Baltic issues.
In this breakdown, we have combined both reports, summarizing both candidates positions looking from the Baltic perspective.
Vice President Biden has a very strong track record in supporting the Baltic countries and NATO. He showed clear support for Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania during his time in office as a Vice President, as well as before that in the U.S. Senate and after that as a public figure and during his time as a presidential candidate.
During his high-profile official visit to Latvia on August 23, 2016, on the anniversary of the Baltic Way and Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact, he also met the leaders of the three Baltic countries. There, Vice President Biden pledged U.S. support for the Baltic countries, emphasizing bipartisan support for NATO. He expressed U.S. support for NATO’s Article 5 and strongly dismissed then-presidential candidate Trump’s anti-NATO rhetoric. In 2020 Biden predicted that “NATO will end within four years” in case Trump is re-elected.”
Remarking on the accomplishments of the Baltic states during his visit to Latvia, he also expressed that he has been following the Baltic matters closely for decades: “I remember as a member of the United States Senate that vision that was portrayed of two million people holding hands, hundreds of miles, forming an unbroken chain from each of your capitals, [from] right here to Vilnius. I was amazed at the time. You inspired the world. You inspired all oppressed people.”
During his time as a Senator, Biden co-sponsored the “Baltic Freedom Day” Resolution. He also was a floor manager in 1998 during the U.S. Senate’s first vote on NATO expansion since the Cold War. It is interesting to note that Biden was asked to be a floor manager for not only the Democrats but also for Republicans.
In a plan published by Biden’s campaign, he plans to “restore and reimagine” partnerships such as NATO, keeping and improving NATO’s capabilities, restoring America’s leadership in foreign policy, and leading by “the power of our example.”
In contrast to the current incumbent, Biden has not been silent on the ongoing protests in Belarus – in a recent tweet, he remarked on the 31st anniversary of the Baltic Way, which paved a way for Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania to regain independence, and the similarities with the events happening now.
Senator Kamala Harris of California in her foreign policy statements seems to be very conscious of Russian aggression: “Whether it’s the nuclear threat of North Korea and Iran, chaos and oppression in Venezuela, confronting China’s unfair trade practices, for combatting Russia’s cyberattacks on your democracy, the U.S. is most effective at confronting global challenges when we work in coordination with our partners.” Harris has also claimed that her own campaign has been a target of online misinformation efforts by Russian bots. Harris cosponsored theSecure Elections Act in the 115th Congress to bolster election infrastructure and cybersecurity.
Notably, when asked in 2019 about the biggest foreign policy accomplishment of the United States since World War 2, she stated that it “has been the post-war community of international institutions, laws, and democratic nations we helped to build. For generations, presidents from both parties established a network of stalwart partners. These countries have contributed to our prosperity and worked with us in war and peace to deal with some of the toughest international crises and to confront a number of generational challenges.”
Harris, similarly to Biden, has also stated that she would continue to support Ukraine and its sovereignty and territorial integrity, working closely with European partners.
Since Harris has only been a senator since 2017, much of the nuances in her foreign policy views remain to be seen, however, we would expect that in broader terms her views won’t contrast with policy put forward by Biden.