ICYMI: Shaheen Co-Leads Bipartisan Congressional Delegation to NATO Summit in Madrid
(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), a senior member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, led a bipartisan congressional delegation with Senator Thom Tillis (R-NC) as Co-Chairs of the Senate NATO Observer Group to the NATO Summit in Madrid, which concluded last week. The delegation included U.S. Senators Dick Durbin (D-IL), Chris Coons (D-DE), Roy Blunt (R-MO), Deb Fischer (R-NE) and Joni Ernst (R-IA). Shaheen and Tillis led the delegation’s visit at the NATO Summit in Madrid after previously stopping in Finland and Sweden to meet with heads of state and partake in other important bilateral meetings.
Check out some of the highlights from the trip:
- “I think the NATO countries have been very effective in supporting Ukraine, and the addition of Sweden and Finland is very exciting. It’s reassurance to the Baltic countries, who are very concerned about the threat from Russia, [and] to Poland…[and] all of the eastern European countries. I think everyone will leave the summit with an appreciation for the increased support in Eastern Europe against the threat from Putin.
- “This is about whether we are going to allow a brutal dictator like Vladimir Putin to violate the international order, to go into a country unprovoked, to interfere with that country's own decision-making process, with their own vision of what they want to be in the future. We can't let that happen.
- “This is about whether democracies are going to prevail…So we have got to stay together. We have to stand strong. We have to make the case to our public…about why this fight is so important to all of us. It is important to our security in the United States, to our ability in the future to remain free and to determine our own future.”
- “We came through Helsinki and Stockholm on our way here to Madrid just to show our support, that there is bipartisan support in the United States Senate, for the accession applications of both Finland and Sweden. And we wanted to make sure that Turkey knew that, Finland and Sweden knew that, and that everyone here knows that, because they both bring tremendous capabilities and they share our values. They will be a great asset with NATO.
- “Putin made the biggest foreign policy blunder since Hitler went into Russia. And history is going to show this, and it's going to show that what he has done is to unite the NATO countries, to unite the transatlantic alliance and democracies around the world. It's that message of unity that we keep hearing at this summit.”
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- “The thing that I thought was most important for me was hearing every person we met with talking about the important leadership role that the United States plays and just how important that has been here at the summit in NATO, how important that was in rallying allies to help Ukraine oppose Russia's war and how important it is as we think about our security going forward.
- “We have a security interest in what happens in Ukraine and what it means for the future of the United States. The interesting thing about the strategic concept that was approved at the summit is that it addresses the new threats from the 21st century. So right now, we've got a conventional war in Ukraine. But as we look at the challenges that countries are facing going forward, it's disinformation, it's cyberthreats, it's pandemics. And the challenge for NATO is to think about how it does business in a way that responds to those new threats.”
- Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), a fixture of the modern CODEL, and Tillis organized last week’s eight-member trip to the NATO summit, which included stops in Finland and Sweden. In Madrid, Shaheen was swarmed by foreign journalists who recognized her due to her extensive international travels.
- “We get to know each other in ways that we don’t often have time to do when we’re actually in the Senate and learn to trust each other,” Shaheen said in an interview on the sidelines of the hubbub. “Which is really important when you’re dealing with all issues, really.”
- The CODEL to Spain’s capital spoke with one voice to allied nations about the near-unanimous Senate support for admitting Sweden and Finland into NATO. In the coming weeks, the chamber is expected to vote on a defense treaty that would put the U.S. government’s rubber stamp on both countries’ entry into the storied Western military alliance.
- “Putin vastly miscalculated. In fact, I think it's probably the worst mistake of a leader certainly in Europe since Hitler went into Russia in World War II. What he did was unite NATO in a way that hasn't been done in a number of years, and I think at the Madrid Summit, what we will see is a NATO where people are very much on the same message, where they are talking about the importance of the NATO alliance and providing security for member nations, where they're looking at the expansion of adding Finland and Sweden, something people didn't think would happen at all.
- “They're looking at what the future of NATO is. They have a document that they're going to be finalizing at this summit that looks not just as aggression from Russia and other nations but also talks about China and the potential impact of China on NATO nations. So I think this is going to be a very important summit where the NATO countries make clear to the rest of the world that they not only support each other but support a rules?based international order.”
- Sens. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., and Thom Tillis, R-N.C., who are co-chairpersons of the group, said Ukraine’s fate on the battlefield will determine the path of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s revanchist ambitions and influence the economic stability of the U.S. and the future of democracies worldwide.
- Shaheen reiterated that point, describing the financial sacrifices of Americans paying more at the gas pump and grocery stores as the cost of defending freedom.
- “If we support the Ukrainians, then hopefully we won't have to send our soldiers to Ukraine,” she said. “This is for democracies around the world. It’s for the United States, but it’s also for all of us who believe every human being should have the right to determine their own future.”
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- At a moment when the war has sometimes slipped from the headlines, with families increasingly focused on the costs of inflation and the political media homing in on a chaotic midterm election season, “I think we all need to talk to the American people about why this is so important,” Shaheen said.
- “It is a whole lot easier and less costly for us to support the Ukrainians in this fight against [Russian President VLADIMIR PUTIN] than to allow Putin to be successful, and then to decide that next time, he’s going into the Baltics, or he’s going into Poland” — two potential invasions of NATO allies that would trigger an Article 5 response from the U.S. and much broader American involvement, Shaheen said.
- It’s no surprise that Shaheen can sound so convincing on these issues; few fellow lawmakers are as well-schooled on European statecraft as the former New Hampshire governor, who has been serving in the Senate since 2009.