A group of Republican senators is urging the U.S. to assist the countries of the so-called “belt of freedom and democracy” in Europe to win a battle of hearts and minds with neighboring Russia.
In an op-ed in Roll Call, Sens. Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., Ron Johnson, R-Wis., Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., and Mike Crapo, R-Idaho detailed a plan to promote democracy and free-market economics in Ukraine, Georgia, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, a group of former satellite Soviet Republics heavily reliant on Russia since its days as a communist country.
Their plan includes: allowing Georgia to buy defensive weapons from the United States, placing U.S. and European missiles in the country; the formation a free-trade agreement; admission into the European Union; hosting U.S. nuclear weapons in the Baltic States; and encouraging U.S. companies to invest in a nuclear power plant that Russia has tried to block.
The group sees too much Russian influence in Ukraine -- including corruption that endangers investors -- to make specific recommendations.
“Despite its size and military might, Russia’s actions continue to manifest a lack of confidence in its own system,” the senators write. “The increasing success of neighboring states previously part of the Soviet Union highlights the dichotomy.”
The op-ed comes at a time when the Obama administration has sought to improve U.S.-Russian relations. Vice President Biden visited the country earlier this year.