WASHINGTON -- A bipartisan group of U.S. senators has introduced a resolution condemning Russia for "dangerous and unprofessional" military actions in recent months.
The measure, sponsored by Senator David Purdue (Republican-Georgia), reflects the toughening rhetoric among U.S. policymakers and lawmakers toward Russia. It also comes as large-scale NATO exercises wrap up in Eastern Europe, and on the eve of a major NATO summit in Warsaw.
The Senate resolution takes aim specifically at a series of recent close-calls between Russian jets and U.S. naval ships and air force planes in the Baltic Sea and Sea of Okhotsk.
In one incident in April, Russian jets and two helicopters came exceptionally close to a U.S. guided missile destroyer operating in the Baltic.
The draft resolution also calls out Russia for violations, alleged by the U.S. State Department, of the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, a landmark Cold War agreement that has come under growing stress.
The proposed measure "condemns the recent dangerous and unprofessional Russian intercepts of United States-flagged aircraft and vessels."
It also calls on Moscow "to cease provocative military maneuvers that endanger United States forces and those of its allies."
For its part, Russia has accused NATO leaders of breaking promises not to expand into former Warsaw Pact countries in the 1990s. Moscow also says U.S. and NATO forces are conducting threatening maneuvers in Europe, and it has recently shifted several divisions to Russia's western borders.
NATO rejects these accusations, saying no such promises were given and that it is up to individual nations to decide whether to pursue membership in the alliance. NATO also says it does not represent a threat to Russia and is not trying to encircle it.
The Senate resolution was introduced on June 20 and must be voted on in committee before being taken up by the full chamber.
Known as simple resolutions, such measures do not have the full power of laws passed by the two chambers of Congress and signed by the president. Instead, they are intended to express the sentiment of a chamber.