Central and East European Coalition Questions for the Nomination Hearing of Antony J. Blinken to be Secretary of State
The Central and East European Coalition (CEEC) is comprised of 18 national membership organizations that represent more than 22 million Americans of Central and Eastern European (CEE) descent. As we represent communities in the United States with heritage from that region, our constituents have a vested interest in the U.S.-Russia relationship, and in positive and productive U.S. relations with the CEE region and our transatlantic partners and allies. Mr. Blinken’s nomination is integral to security in the CEE region; we therefore submit the following questions for consideration by the nominee and inclusion in the official public record.
The CEEC strongly believes in democratic values as human rights and the rule of law. Russia’s aggression to undermine these values must be contained. We actively support legislation imposing sanctions on Russia, and advocate for the strict enforcement of sanctions to ensure the withdrawal of Russian forces from Ukrainian and Georgian territories and the deterrence of any future encroachment on other states. The Russian government must be held accountable to act responsibly and abide by international law. It is vitally important that the United States maintain its leverage and leadership in the development of multinational policy in the region. The Secretary of State must espouse and aggressively work toward the implementation of these goals.
To facilitate assessment of the nominee’s positions on these issues, we respectfully request that the Senate Foreign Relations Committee include the following questions in the subject hearing:
1)What is your position on the implementation of U.S. sanctions in response to the elections in Belarus and their aftermath?
2)What are your plans for the future of the U.S. commitment to NATO? Please include comments on your views of the appropriate level of U.S. troop presence and capabilities in the European theater and any withdrawals from Germany.
3)What are your policy goals for U.S. relations with Russia? Please include any concerns you have regarding adherence, or lack thereof, to the numerous standing agreements to which both nations are party. Examples include: Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe, Helsinki Final Act of 1975, NATO-Russia Founding Act of 1997, and Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances of 1994.
4)What is your position on sanctions against Russia with respect to Russian military aggression in Ukraine and annexation of Crimea?
5)How do you see the role of the U.S. in countering Russian hybrid warfare in the Caucasus region, including the creeping occupation of Georgia’s sovereign territory?
6)What is your stance on disinformation campaigns and cyberattacks against the U.S. and the CEE nations from sources within Russia and elsewhere? What role, if any, do you see for the U.S. in stemming Kremlin misinformation flowing to the Russian people about the U.S. and its allies? What do you see as the role of the Voice of America?
7)How would you characterize the effect of the Putin regime’s policies toward central and eastern Europe on U.S. national interests? Are there Kremlin policies that you consider to be contrary to strengthening democracy, human rights, and stability in the region?
8)Considering the Kremlin’s long history of using gas and oil as a means of political and economic pressure, what is your position on U.S. assistance to ensure energy security and independence in the CEE region, to include working to end the Nord Stream 2 project, and supporting the Three Seas Initiative?
9)President-elect Biden has been critical of the governments of NATO allies Hungary and Poland as backsliding democracies. What would be the approach of the Biden Administration in its relations with those countries?
10)How do you propose to address the military and geo-political alliance emerging between Russia and Turkey that threatens to destabilize NATO and much of southern Europe?
11)What initiatives will the Administration undertake to protect universal human rights, such as sending assistance to remediate the large-scale humanitarian disasters faced by the people of Eastern Ukraine, Nagorno-Karabakh, and other regions in our area of concern, and adopting as U.S. policy the affirmation of the Armenian and Ukrainian (Holodomor) Genocides?
12)What steps will the Administration take to stand with our democratic allies, especially those that continue to face threats by foreign adversaries, such as Russia? Does the Administration plan to increase assistance to CEE countries to help bolster their democracies, economic development, and security?