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Montenegro is moving ever closer to becoming a NATO member after the US Senate agreed hold a final vote soon on approving its accession to the military alliance.
The full US Senate is set to start a day-and-a-half debate on Tuesday on the treaty to allow Montenegro’s membership in NATO.
This follows a 97-2 procedural ballot in the Senate on Monday in favour of allowing the final vote this week on the ratification of Montenegro’s NATO Accession Protocol.
Now lawmakers have a maximum of 30 hours to debate whether Montenegro should become the 29th member of the Western alliance.
A two-thirds majority in the 100-member Senate is required and the final vote is expected late on Tuesday or on Wednesday.
The senators are expected to back Montenegrin accession, and although votes are still required in parliaments in the Netherlands and Spain, the government in Podgorica hopes the process will be complete by May when the next NATO summit is scheduled.
The only two ‘no’ votes in the procedural ballot on Monday came from Republican Senators Rand Paul and Mike Lee, both of whom had been blocking the progress on the vote for several months.
Paul warned Washington against spreading itself too thinly at a point when its military is involved in Iraq, Syria, Libya and Yemen.
“Montenegro in NATO will antagonise Russia while doing nothing to advance US national security,” Paul said during the floor debate.
“Most Americans can’t find Montenegro on a map,” he added in a sharply-worded Senate speech.
“Are you willing to send your kids there to fight?” he asked.
Paul has suggested that recruiting Montenegro, which had once been a staunch Russian ally, could lead to heightened tension with Moscow, possibly even war.
Source: Radio Television Montenegro