Reaffirming U.S. Support for NATO and Remembering the Holocaust
This week, I was part of a Congressional Delegation to Eastern Europe and the Baltic Countries to reaffirm Congressional support for NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) and learn more about NATO’s efforts to combat Russian aggression and influence in Europe. Keep reading to learn more about my week and follow me on Twitter and Facebook to see more updates as they happen.
This week, I was part of a Congressional Delegation to Eastern Europe and the Baltic Countries hosted by Congressman Doug Lamborn (R-CO) to reaffirm Congressional support for NATO and learn more about NATOs efforts to combat Russian aggression and influence in Europe. In every discussion, whether it was with the Montenegrins, Estonians or Lithuanians, one consistent theme was to not trust Russia or Russian President Vladimir Putin. Several people in our meetings referred to Putin as having not changed since he was a mid-level KGB officer.
In addition to the 2016 American Presidential election, Russia has interfered in many elections in Europe, including in France, Germany, the Netherlands and Montenegro. The Russians used social media and fake news in all of these elections and always supported the anti-democracy, anti-NATO, anti-American candidate. I am proud to have introduced a bipartisan resolution in the House of Representatives earlier this year with Congressman John Shimkus (R-IL), who was also part of the delegation, to reaffirm U.S. support for NATO and Eastern European countries. NATO is critical to the safety and security of the United States and our European allies and to promoting democracy and stability in Europe.
At the beginning of the Congressional Delegation, we met with U.S. troops at the Grafenwoehr training facility outside of Nuremburg, Germany and in Krakow, Poland. We received briefings on U.S. involvement in NATO and on the upcoming Zapad 2017 military exercise later this month for the Russia and Belarus armed forces. NATO forces are extremely concerned about these military exercises, which will be the largest conducted by Russia since the Cold War.
While in Poland, we visited the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum, which was an incredibly moving experience. What the Nazis did to Jews, gays and lesbians, political opponents, people with disabilities, and others during the Holocaust was horrific. The experience was particularly chilling after seeing Neo-Nazis marching through the streets in Charlottesville, Virginia and President Trump refusing to unequivocally denounce hate groups. We should be doing everything in our power to prevent an event like the Holocaust from happening again.
While in Vilnius, Lithuania, we met with the President of Lithuania and got her thoughts on the Zapad 2017 military exercise, President Putin and the President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko. I also visited the site of the Ponary massacre where 100,000 people (70,000 of whom were Jewish) were gunned down by the Nazis during the Holocaust.
As we travelled through the Baltic Counties, they all mentioned that they would like to see an increased American presence in the region to help counter the increasing influence of Russia. We visited with a platoon of American troops at the Tapa Army Base in Estonia. One of the soldiers was from Clarksville, TN and another from Murfreesboro, TN. We also met with NATO cybersecurity officials and Estonian intelligence officials on Russian cyber threats.
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Each week, I share a health tip in the hopes of promoting a healthy lifestyle for residents of the Ninth Congressional District. As always, it is best to check with your doctor before making any changes to your diet, exercise routine or lifestyle.
It is almost time to get your flu vaccinations for the 2017-2018 flu season. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recently issued their recommendations for this season. Read more here.
I hope you were able to stay out of the rain and Go Tigers!
As always, I remain.