President Joe Biden announced on Thursday that Finland and Sweden have “full, total, complete backing” from the United States for their appeal to join NATO. Since the Cold War, the organization has been an essential foundation in Western defense.
Biden, Finnish President Sauli Niinisto, and Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson held a meeting at the White House Rose Garden. Biden has sent paperwork to Congress for the applications of both parties involved to be approved.
“Finland and Sweden make NATO stronger,” said Biden. “And a strong, united NATO is the foundation of America’s security.”
With the backing of Democratic Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, this decision is an unlikely but promising bipartisan success for a NATO enlistment.
“I think the United States ought to be first in line to ratify the treaty for both these countries to join,” stated McConnell following speaking with Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelensky in Kyiv on Saturday.
The two nations appealed to join NATO after Russia’s attack on Ukraine. However, their enlistment is still a long shot from certainty because Turkey – a member of this military alliance – has stated that it will dismiss any bid by Finland and Sweden due to its backing of Kurdish groups, which Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan considers terrorist organizations.
“We are following developments concerning Sweden and Finland, but we are not of a favorable opinion,” stated Erdogan last week.
Biden seemed to agree to those worries when he queried the Senate to ratify the two nations’ application “once the perspectives of all allies are addressed, and NATO adopts the accession protocols.”
Finish leader Niinisto addressed Turkey’s worries about his nation’s appeal to NATO, stating that Helsinki was “open to discussing all the concerns Turkey may have concerning our membership in an open and constructive manner.”
He also confirmed that some of those discussions had already begun and would continue going forward.
Swedish Prime Minister Andersson described Russia’s attack on Ukraine as a “watershed moment for Sweden,” a country that has kept a policy of military impartiality for hundreds of years, even amid the two world wars.
Andersson stated that she highly regards the bipartisan backing in Washington for her nation’s NATO bid. Like Niinisto stated, her nation discussed with all NATO members, counting Turkey, “on different levels to sort out any issues at hand.”
Biden addressed concerns that the expansion of NATO might be fanning flames with Russia. Putin views this as targeted toward Russia and its borders.
“New members joining NATO is not a threat to any nation,” Biden stated. “In the face of aggression, NATO has not grown weaker or more divided. It has grown stronger, more united.”
Office of the Director of National Intelligence’s employee and now the Center for a New American Security senior, Andrea Kendall-Taylor, told NPR that though both Finland and Sweden are worried about Russia, it’s unlikely that they will experience any significant problems.
“I think that Russia is too bogged down with its war in Ukraine. And I think that’s exactly that calculus that Finland and Sweden have, that they see that Russia is distracted, and it gives them this window to make a move,” said Kendall-Taylor.