Politics

Rand Paul Skeptical of Letting Macedonia Into NATO, Questions Montenegro’s Accession Last Year

Continues blasting bipartisan Graham-Menendez Russia sanctions proposal

Sen. Rand Paul raised further questions Wednesday about the size of NATO. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Sen. Rand Paul on Wednesday questioned the wisdom of last year’s accession of Montenegro to NATO.

The Kentucky Republican spoke at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee focused on the value of the alliance, and in particular the U.S. role.

“Really, Montenegro is not France. Macedonia is not England, and I think the question really becomes ... does Montenegro actually increase our national security by putting them in NATO or do they possibly increase our strategic risks,” Paul said.

In July, members of NATO alliance formally invited Macedonia to join its ranks.

Paul pointed to the example of some alliances that formed what he referred to as “trip wires” ahead of the outbreak of World War I. His comments Wednesday followed his suggestion at an August 21 hearing of the Foreign Relations panel in which he suggested having conversations with Russia about the scope of NATO.

“I think there has to be some discussion,” Paul said Wednesday. “Do we want everybody in NATO? Is there no limitations to who we’ll put in NATO? Does it dilute the value of NATO? Is it provocative?”

This week’s hearing with outside witnesses who are former senior foreign policy officials involved discussion of the potential for imposing more sanctions targeting the Russian Federation. The debate was in large part about how to punish Russia for actions including interference in elections in the United States and elsewhere in the democratic world without hitting European allies, including those involving a proposed pipeline from Russia.

Legislation under consideration from South Carolina Republican Lindsey Graham and New Jersey Democrat Robert Menendez would go after foreign entities doing business with Russia’s state-owned energy industry.

“The new Graham bill on sanctions does have sanctions on European interests who have a deal with Russia on the gas pipeline. So, if you think it’s a bad idea to sanction them, you’re really opposed to the new Graham sanctions bill,” Paul said.

Graham and Paul differ frequently on matters of defense policy and foreign affairs.

“What is Russia saying? They’re saying the new Graham bill would be the equivalent of economic warfare. We’re talking about cutting off pipelines. I see the pipeline as a good thing,” Paul said. “Why would you want to fight somebody who buys your oil?”

Rachel Oswald contributed to this report.

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