(Belgrade) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Europe and Regional Security Cooperation and a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, is leading a bipartisan congressional delegation with Senators Chris Murphy (D-CT) and Thom Tillis (R-NC) to the Balkans to convey continued U.S. support for its allies amid Russian aggression against Ukraine and the implications for European security in the region. The Senators will also discuss the importance of continuing to make progress on the region’s intentions for greater European integration. The Senators are in Serbia and will next travel to Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosovo and Belgium. Shaheen and Tillis are co-chairs of the Senate NATO Observer Group, which they re-established in 2018.
“Our bipartisan delegation is travelling to the Balkans at a pivotal moment for Europe. Affirming U.S. support to our partners in the Balkans is especially critical as we experience the most precarious military situation in Europe since World War II. We must continue to support Balkan nations on their respective democratic trajectories and encourage their path towards European integration,” said Senator Shaheen. “I look forward to convening these important meetings, and culminating our trip with a visit to NATO in Brussels to reaffirm U.S. support for the transatlantic alliance, which has been fundamental to our global response to aid Ukraine.”
“As the Russian military faces a determined resistance in Ukraine, we need to pay close attention to other parts of Europe that may be vulnerable to Russian interference if Putin seeks other ways to weaken the West. Putin has long cheered on those who seek to undermine unity and territorial integrity in the Balkans and would love nothing more than to see those divisions deepen. I’ve made several visits to the Balkans during my time in the Senate and developed many close relationships with the leaders of the region. I am firmly of the belief that we can never take peace in the Balkans for granted, and I’m glad to join Senators Shaheen and Tillis in Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Kosovo to discuss regional security and democratic reforms, and in Brussels to reaffirm our support for the Balkans’ path toward integration into the European Union,” said Senator Murphy.
“The Balkans is a region critical to Europe’s security, and we must continue our strong cooperation with our partners as Russia continues its illegal war against Ukraine and threatens NATO members,” said Senator Tillis. “As co-chair of the Senate NATO Observer Group, I am committed to working on a bipartisan basis to provide that support, and I am proud to be on this bipartisan delegation to the Balkans to show our commitment to Europe’s sovereignty.”
During their visit, the Senators will meet with members of the respective countries’ administrations, members of civil society and members of the press to address numerous issues, including support for Ukraine amid Russia’s unprovoked invasion, European security, anti-corruption efforts, safeguarding freedom of the press and much more.
Shaheen has led action in the U.S. Senate in support of Ukraine in response to Vladimir Putin’s belligerence, which also threatens the stability and security of Europe and NATO allies. She has led two bipartisan delegations to Ukraine in the last year, and in February participated in a congressional delegation to Poland.