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US Senate votes overwhelmingly in favor of Montenegro’s accession to NATO

The only two "no" votes came from Republican Senators Rand Paul and Mike Lee

WASHINGTON, March 29. /TASS/. The US Senate ratified the protocol on Montenegro’s accession to NATO on Tuesday with 97 votes in favor and two against.

The only two "no" votes came from Republican Senators Rand Paul and Mike Lee. Paul delayed the vote for months by refusing to allow a quick vote, proposed by John McCain.

Paul argued during a Senate session Monday that Montenegro’s NATO membership will not improve the security of the United States, but, on the contrary, will oblige Washington to intervene militarily in case of a conflict.

"There is no national security interest that an alliance with Montenegro will advance," Paul said Monday. "Most Americans couldn't find Montenegro on a map. Are you willing to send your kids there to fight?"

McCain responded by alleging that the senator from Kentucky is "now working for (Russian President) Vladimir Putin."

Moscow has repeatedly expressed its concern over the eastward expansion of NATO. "The NATO expansion has led to the unprecedented in recent 30 years level of tensions in Europe. Judging by certain statements at the Munich Conference, the cold war is still not over," Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told the Munich Security Conference on February 18.

Montenegro received the NATO membership action plan during the 2009 summit of the alliance. Negotiations began the following year. On May 19, the foreign ministers of the 28 NATO member-countries signed the protocol on Montenegro’s accession to NATO, after which it was granted an observer status. Once this document is ratified by all member states, the country will automatically become the alliance’s 29th member.

To date, the protocol was ratified by 24 out of 28 NATO members.