The US Senate panel approves NATO expansion
Senate Foreign Affairs Committee unanimously supports Finland’s and Sweden’s applications to join the military alliance
The panel adopted the resolution on Thursday without a single objection, indicating bipartisan support for the move in Washington, and urges other NATO members to follow suit and show similar agreement as they welcome Stockholm and Helsinki into the US-led military bloc.
“A powerful alliance with roots in shared values, Sweden and Finland would only strengthen NATO and revive the backbone of our international security architecture in the face of Putin’s aggression.” committee chairman Senator Bob Menendez (DN.J.) said after vote. He added it with this “Bipartisan vote of confidence, we signal that we are ready to take the necessary steps to facilitate their accession.”
“I have long said that Sweden’s and Finland’s strong political and military traditions make them a perfect fit for the alliance. I hope the Senate will follow the committee’s lead and move quickly to adopt this resolution.” added Senator Jim Risch (R-Idaho), the committee’s ranked member.
The bids from the two Nordic countries enjoy the full support of President Joe Biden’s administration and are expected to easily exceed the required minimum of two thirds for full Senate approval. For his part, Biden called on the Senate to ratify the measure “as quickly as possible.”
However, consensus is needed from all NATO states to add a new member to the alliance, and the two new hopefuls are facing a decline from a major member, Turkey. After repeatedly blasting Finland and Sweden as “guest houses for terrorist organizations”, Ankara should have presented them with a list of ten requirements that they must meet to secure its blessing.
Long-standing neutral countries, Finland and Sweden, have fought to join NATO in the midst of the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine. Russia attacked its neighbor at the end of February, following Ukraine’s failure to implement the terms of the Minsk agreements, which were first signed in 2014, and Moscow’s final recognition of the Donbass republics of Donetsk and Lugansk. The German- and French-mediated protocols were designed to give the breakaway regions special status within the Ukrainian state. The Kremlin has since demanded that Ukraine officially declare itself a neutral country that will never join NATO.
Regarding Sweden’s and Finland’s entry into the alliance, Moscow called move a “serious mistake with long lasting consequences.” Still the Kremlin views the two countries’ NATO aspirations are less worrying than Ukraine’s, where potential territorial disputes “would have posed enormous risks to the entire continent.”