Turner presses NATO expansion to former Soviet states


It would also make those former Soviet satellite states eligible for military assistance by the United States and NATO members, "including the sale of defense articles and services," according to the proposed legislation. 

“These nations have a mutual goal of freedom from tyranny and the right to a collective defense. I call on the Administration and my colleagues in Congress to recognize that countries such as Bosnia, Macedonia, Montenegro, and Georgia should be afforded NATO membership,” Turner said in a statement released Thursday.

The legislation would not authorize any new U.S. assistance programs and will not increase the current levels of foreign aid being provided to these countries already. 

If signed into law, the bill would require the State Department to provide an update to Congress on the steps taken to get those four Eastern European countries into the alliance. 

Turner's bill falls in line with an ongoing effort to expand the alliance's membership into Eastern Europe and designate "former communist countries as eligible for U.S. assistance to become NATO members," Turner said. 

It also comes two months before top NATO leaders are set to meet at their annual conference in Chicago in May. 

Aside from adding new NATO members, Turner's proposal also calls for renewed talks with Russia on its nuclear arsenal. Pieces of the bill are "aimed at reducing their deployed and non-deployed, nonstrategic nuclear force." 

The bill also clearly points out the discrepancies between the United States and Russian nuclear stockpiles. Russia's "advantage in non-strategic nuclear weapons" is a clear national security threat "to the U.S. and its allies." 

Turner this week chided the White House's plan to shrink U.S. nuclear stockpiles while defunding efforts to maintain the current nuclear weapons complex. 

"We have seen the president walk away" from the need for a strong U.S. nuclear deterrent, Turner told reporters during a breakfast in Washington on Tuesday. "I'm concerned ... that we should be investing more in it."