The U.S. Senate voted overwhelmingly in favor of approving Montenegro's bid to join NATO, thus opening the way for the Balkan country to join the Alliance, as reported by Radio Liberty.
"On March 27, 97 senators voted to end the debate and allow voting at the end of this week to ratify Montenegro's membership in NATO. Only Republican Senators Rand Paul and Mike Lee voted against the accession," the report said.
The final vote will be held in the upper house of Congress. As soon as this happens, Spain will remain the only one of the 28 countries of the Alliance that will have to approve Montenegro's request for official membership.
U.S. support for Montenegro's intention to join the Alliance turned out to be quite strong, although some observers assumed that President Donald Trump's loyal rhetoric towards Russia would lead to a weakening of support for NATO expansion. Experts argue that Montenegro's membership in NATO will bring the country closer to the political and economic structures of Europe, and will also intensify Moscow’s irritation as it opposes the expansion of the Alliance.
The accession of Montenegro to the Alliance was agreed to in 2016. In late February 2017, the head of the Foreign Ministry of Montenegro said that the country planned to become a member of NATO by May.