The US and the Baltics: Russia, Energy and NATO
H.E. Deborah McCarthy, US Ambassador to Lithuania

Washington, DC—On September 30th, 2013, US Ambassador to Lithuania Deborah McCarthy spoke about the US and the Baltics, with a focus on energy, Russia, and NATO. In her remarks, McCarthy discussed the importance of the current Lithuanian presidency of the European Union, as well as the increased tensions between the EU and Russia over the Eastern Partnership, which has further strained Russian-Baltic relations. McCarthy also discussed the dependence of the Baltics and other European countries on Russian energy, specifically oil, how the EU is addressing this issue, and the economic pressures Russia is exerting on the Baltic states. She stressed the importance of the Baltics as economic and political models for the region and the importance of the relationship between the Baltics and the United States, particularly regarding energy security and NATO. The event was moderated by WFPG President Patricia Ellis.

Ambassador McCarthy discussed the evolution of the US’ relationship with the Baltics and explained that relations between both parties have improved over the years for various reasons. One main reason is that the Baltics have played significant roles in US overseas operations, such as ISAF in Afghanistan. Over the years, the US has partnered with the Baltics in various joint maritime training operations in the Baltic Sea, demonstrating both parties’ commitments to mutual defense. Furthermore, a recent meeting between the Baltic heads of state and the Obama Administration has solidified the strong ties between both parties.

Ambassador McCarthy also discussed the challenges of the Eastern Partnership, which is essentially an economic agreement between the EU and the Baltic states. Ultimately, the goal of the Eastern Partnership is to ensure the Baltics’ geo-strategic position in the region and ensure the stability of these states’ energy and security. Despite the interest on both sides, however, Russian aggression on the border over the past few years and the imposition of debilitating economic policies on numerous Baltic states have kept many from agreeing to partner with the EU. Lithuania, for example, was a victim to Russian economic blockades in 1992 and 1993 when it attempted to initiate a free trade policy with the West. Moldova is another country that is suffering from Russian economic limitations on its sale of wine, a major Moldovan export. McCarthy stressed that for the Eastern Partnership to succeed, the US must continue to note the Baltics’ hard and soft power security needs given that the US and the EU’s security is “indivisible”.

Energy is a major issue in the Baltic states, which have historically relied on Russia for the source of energy. McCarthy mentioned that the Baltic states have been working towards the development of an LNG terminal, which would provide natural gas to the Baltic states and reduce their dependence on Russian gas. Ambassador McCarthy also mentioned that various US firms were partnering with Baltic energy firms to export sources of energy and they were discovering new sources of energy for the region, such as shale.


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WFPG President Patricia Ellis and Deborah McCarthy,
US Ambassador to Lithuania

  Patricia Ellis, Ambassador McCarthy,
Ambassador Zygimantas Pavilionis of Lithuania,
and Ambassador Marina Kaljurand of Estonia
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Ambassador Ritva Koukku-Ronde of Finland

  Ambassador Pavilionis asks a question

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Patricia Ellis and Ambassador McCarthy

  Ambassador Koukku-Ronde and Ambassador Kaljurand
participate in the discussion

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Ambassador McCarthy with Ann Stock,
former Assistant Secretary of State for
Educational and Cultural Affairs

  Ambassador McCarthy and US Foreign Service Officers

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