Shaheen, Tillis Issue Joint Statement on NATO Summit & Ahead of President Biden’s Visit to Poland
**Biden’s Decision to Travel to Poland Follows Shaheen & Tillis’ Request Made in a Bipartisan Letter Sent Last Week, Urging the President to Visit an Eastern European Nation in Coordination with his Trip to Brussels**
(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Thom Tillis (R-NC), co-chairs of the Senate NATO Observer Group, issued the following joint statement at the conclusion of the NATO Summit and ahead of President Biden’s visit to Poland, heeding a request from Shaheen and Tillis. The Senators included this request to President Biden in a bipartisan letter sent last week, requesting several considerations ahead of the summit and urging him to visit an Eastern European nation.
“The strength of the transatlantic alliance has been tested more in the last month than it has been in its over 70 years of existence. We are proud to see the U.S. and our NATO allies rise to the challenge and stand together in support of Ukraine in the face of Putin’s unprovoked and premeditated war,” said Shaheen and Tillis. “NATO, and the global community at large, have witnessed the bravery and patriotism of the Ukrainian people as they rise up and fight for their lives, land and freedom. Led by their heroic President, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, the Ukrainian people are not only leading the fight for their country, but for the future of liberal democracies around the world.”
The Senators continued, “We, as co-chairs of the Senate NATO Observer Group, are proud to reaffirm support in the Senate for the efforts made in coordination with our transatlantic allies and are pleased by the actionable items that resulted from this summit. In particular, we welcome the establishment of four new NATO battlegroups in Romania, Bulgaria, Hungary and Slovakia, which will significantly strengthen deterrence on NATO’s Eastern Flank. This is especially critical in the Black Sea region, which is vulnerable to Putin’s reach and requires defensive measures to counter his expansionist goals. In addition, we are glad that President Biden heeded our bipartisan call to visit an Eastern European nation and will soon travel to Poland. Our Polish allies have heroically manned the frontlines as a border nation, providing not only military assistance, but leading efforts to provide humanitarian relief as refugees seek a safe haven within their communities.”
The Senators concluded, “We are pleased that Secretary General Stoltenberg will continue his leadership position with an extended term until September of next year, which is critical to maintaining stability and consistency within the alliance as we remain in lockstep to respond to this military crisis. In the Senate, we look forward to building on bipartisan efforts to address the United States’ long-term approach toward policy in Russia, and to also shore up NATO in the years to come. The transatlantic alliance has been fundamental to our response to what has become the greatest military threat to European and U.S. security since the Cold War. Through NATO, our coordinated economic and military actions to punish Putin and assist Ukraine are having a meaningful impact – we cannot let up. Together, we must confront this crisis to support our Ukrainian partners and defend democratic values around the world.”
Shaheen and Tillis re-established the Senate NATO Observer Group in 2018. Last week, Shaheen and Tillis led a bipartisan virtual meeting with Julie Smith, the U.S. Ambassador to NATO, to discuss the latest developments in NATO’s response to Russia’s premeditated war on Ukraine. This followed a meeting with Ambassador Smith that they led last month to discuss U.S. efforts with the NATO alliance to respond to the evolving crisis in Ukraine. The Senate NATO Observer Group has an expanded mission to closely monitor and inform Senators outside of national security committees about defense spending commitments of Alliance members, the process of upgrading military capabilities, the Alliance’s counter-terrorism capability, NATO enlargement and the ability of NATO member states to address non-conventional warfare. The Senate NATO Observer Group currently includes 6 Democrats and 6 Republicans. Shaheen and Tillis recently issued a joint bipartisan statement marking the fourth anniversary of the Senate NATO Observer Group.