The messenger logo

Russia does not have veto power on NATO enlargement, US senators say

By Khatia Bzhalava
Thursday, January 13, 2022
Members of the US Senate NATO Observer Group have sent a letter to US President Joe Biden, urging him to convey support for the security and freedom of eastern European allies at the NATO-Russia Council meeting scheduled this week. The letter is signed by U.S. Senators Marco Rubio (R-FL), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Thom Tillis (R-NC), Chris Coons (D-DE), Joni Ernst (R-IA), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Mike Rounds (R-SD), Cory Booker (D-NJ), and John Barrasso (R-WY).

Russia has demanded a list of public ‘security guarantees’ to Western governments, including urging NATO to rule out future membership to Ukraine and Georgia and other ‘unreasonable’ calls that are ‘unacceptable’ to Senators. According to the group of senators, such demands are an attempt to recreate a Russian sphere of influence in Europe, where the Kremlin can coerce and bully countries like Ukraine, Georgia, Moldova, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, and Romania.

“We support close engagement with our allies to ensure a coordinated and unambiguous response to Putin’s brinkmanship and ask that the administration and its allies continue to unequivocally rebuke Putin’s military threats and provocations against our allies,” the letter reads, adding that it is important the US refuses to fulfill Putin’s ‘unacceptable list of demands.

According to the letter, within the framework of the Strategic Stability Dialogue, the Russia-NATO Council and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) Permanent Council meeting, the senators wish to underscore strong bipartisan support for the fact that Russia does not have a veto power on NATO enlargement and expansion of the Alliance, noting that this will be decided solely by NATO members.

According to the senators, the NATO door remains open to European countries which are ready to undertake the commitments and obligations of membership. They also stressed that the United States and its allies are committed to the principle of “no decisions or discussions about Ukraine without Ukraine,” stressing that this principle should also be applied to Georgia.

On December 10, the Russian Foreign Ministry urged NATO to annul the 2008 NATO Bucharest Summit decision which says that Georgia and Ukraine will become NATO members. The Ministry announces that to ensure the vital interests of European security, it is necessary to officially disavow the decision made at the Bucharest summit. Later, it was stressed by Konstantin Gavrilov, the head of the Russian Delegation to the Negotiations on Military Security and Arms Control in Vienna, that ‘under no circumstances will Moscow allow the deployment of NATO infrastructure in Georgia and Ukraine.’

The Russian Foreign Ministry published proposals on ‘security guarantees’ between Russia, the US, and NATO on December 17, which include restrictions on troop, ship, and aircraft deployments for both NATO and Russia, as well limits to the deployment of intermediate and short-range missiles abroad.