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Shaheen, Tillis Lead NATO Senate Observer Group Meeting with NATO Ambassador Julie Smith

(Washington, DC) – Today, U.S. Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Thom Tillis (R-NC), co-chairs of the Senate NATO Observer Group, led a bipartisan virtual meeting with Julie Smith, the U.S. Ambassador to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), to discuss the latest developments in NATO’s response to Russia’s premeditated war on Ukraine. This follows 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 amid increasing Russian aggression.

“The strength of the NATO alliance has been on full display in response to Putin’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, with our transatlantic allies serving on the frontlines supporting Ukraine and inflicting severe damage on Russia. Today’s meeting reaffirmed bipartisan support for our Ukrainian partners, and underscored the important role that the Senate NATO Observer Group plays in the Senate to convey strong Congressional support for the alliance at this critical period. Following President Zelenskyy’s compelling and passionate address to Congress yesterday, we continue to be prepared to respond to the unfolding humanitarian crisis affecting millions of Ukrainians, and to hold the Kremlin to account for committing war crimes and inflicting massive devastation across Ukraine,” said Shaheen. “NATO members have spoken with one voice throughout this crisis – from supplying Ukraine with military capabilities to defend its sovereignty, to inflicting coordinated, devastating sanctions on the Kremlin to force it to recalculate its actions. We welcome the announcement of an extraordinary NATO Summit meeting next week. President Biden’s participation with NATO leaders will send a powerful message to Putin that this alliance is united and will not tolerate his bloody war of aggression against the Ukrainian people.”

“Today’s meeting with Ambassador Smith was a productive conversation that detailed NATO’s response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine,” said Senator Tillis. “As co-chair of the Senate NATO Observer Group, I am proud to work with Senator Shaheen during this crisis to have up-to-date information on the unfolding humanitarian crisis caused by Putin and his cronies. NATO stands ready to provide the assistance necessary to Ukraine as they combat Russia, and I will continue to work with my colleagues in Congress to do our part to provide support.”

Shaheen and Tillis serve as co-chairs of the Senate NATO Observer Group, which they re-established in 2018. The 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, including Senator Bill Hagerty (R-TN) who was recently appointed.

Shaheen and Tillis recently issued a joint bipartisan statement marking the fourth anniversary of the Senate NATO Observer Group, which they re-established together and currently serve as co-chairs. Shaheen and Tillis also previously sent a letter with fellow members of the Senate NATO Observer Group to President Biden urging him to use diplomatic talks at the NATO-Russia Council meeting to deter Russian dictator Vladimir Putin from further invading Ukraine and make clear that the U.S. will not accept Putin’s demands to dictate NATO’s decision-making.