Poland's Prime Minister Beata Szydlo, left, greets U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan, right, before talks at her office in Warsaw, Poland, Friday, April 21, 2017. Their talks were to focus on economic and security issues. (AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski)

Ryan: Russian election meddling probe will help US allies

April 22, 2017 - 12:22 pm

TALLINN, Estonia (AP) — One of the reasons the U.S. Congress has launched an investigation into Russia's alleged meddling in the 2016 U.S. election is to "prevent the same kind of thing happening" to its NATO and other allies, U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan said Saturday.

Ryan spoke at a news conference with Estonian Prime Minister Juri Ratas in Tallinn, the Estonian capital, during a visit by a bipartisan congressional delegation to the Baltic NATO member and staunch Washington ally.

While the Republican speaker claimed that Russia's alleged meddling didn't affect the outcome of the election — won by U.S. President Donald Trump — he said its actions "cannot be tolerated."

"One thing we know for certain is that Russia meddled in our election," Ryan said. "This is a foreign country trying to meddle within the internal activities of a sovereign country or a democracy."

He stressed the U.S has a responsibility to share the results of the Russia investigation with countries like Estonia, which in recent years has faced aggressive Russian disinformation campaigns along with Baltic neighbors Latvia and Lithuania.

"What we're doing through our investigation process is to figure out exactly what is it they did and how they did it so that we can help, equip and assist our allies to prevent the same kind of thing happening to them," Ryan said.

He thanked Estonia — a country of 1.3 million — for its strong commitment to cyber defense and NATO, and for being one of the very few NATO members to spend two percent of its GDP on defense.

"We're here to say thank you for meeting that pledge," Ryan said.

Estonia's relations with neighboring Russia have remained cold and uneasy since the former Soviet republic gained independence in 1991. Among other things, bilateral ties have suffered due to Estonia's success at catching spies working for Moscow.

Ryan was meeting with Estonian President Kersti Kaljulaid later Saturday with his eight-lawmaker delegation. Estonia was the last stop in the delegation's European tour, which also included visits to Britain, Norway and Poland.

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